It’s not often that a bakery wants a supermarket to build on their land, but this is exactly what Fletchers Group of Bakeries is hoping for.
The firm has joined up with Sainsbury’s in a mutually beneficially arrangement that, pending planning permission, would see Fletchers sell part of its Wadsley Bridge site in Sheffield to the supermarket, providing funds for investment in the bakery.
The area in question, currently used as a car park, was previously the site of the most modern part of the Fletchers bakery before it was destroyed by a fire in July 2006. Fletchers MD Stephen Holding explained that the funds generated from the sale of the land were vital to Fletchers’ future Sheffield investment plans, "which include the modernisation of part of the factory within the Claywheels Lane site".
Plans, just announced, involve the relocation of over one-third of the factory within the existing footprint of the bakery, including two production lines (rolls and doughnuts), and the significant upgrade of existing facilities, with old equipment replaced. The firm said the investment would create a more sustainable and efficient factory, which would enable it to continue to produce high-quality competitively priced products, and to take advantage of further growth opportunities in the market. Holding added it would also safeguard the jobs of its 400-or-so staff.
Sainsbury’s is currently awaiting the verdict of its planning application for a new supermarket, which if successful has a planned construction start date of autumn 2011. Fletchers has just submitted its own planning application to Sheffield City Council, for the erection of a new chill store, an HV switch room, alterations to access points and provision of new fencing, which form part of the wider comprehensive modernisation plan.
The Fletchers Group of Bakeries is comprised of four business units in the UK: Fletchers Bakeries, LBD, Grain D’Or and Kara Foodservice, and has an annual turnover of around £90m.