Warburtons has opened its new Bristol bakery, which has cost £45m. Designed to strengthen the brand’s presence in the south west, it will give the firm improved distribution throughout the Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Bristol areas.

Built on a 12-acre greenfield site at Avonmouth the bakery is now producing 7,650 800g white sliced loaves per hour.

Chairman Jonathan Warburton told British Baker: "We always start slowly and build up. It’s a quality argument. We have the capacity here to grow further, but it’s about getting market share on a national scale and continuing to improve quality. We are always active and continue to innovate, but we won’t just throw money at promotions."

He added: "We have a significant innovation at the front end of the bakery. The mixing area is separated from the rest of the process, which gives us stable dough temperature control, whatever the climate. That impacts on dough handling and quality."

Executive director Brett Warburton said: "At the moment the bakery is producing 800g white Toastie, medium-sliced and extra thick. Other products such as 400g Danish plus wholemeal are likely to come on-stream shortly. So far, we are very pleased; the quality is excellent."

Another innovation is a ’double dough detector’. This measures the height of the dough in each tin, so each lid fits without any spillages.

The new bakery is Warbur-tons’ 14th and the company achieved nationwide distribution in September 2007. Brett Warburton said: "We began work in February 2008 and set a target date of 1 December to start trials. So the project was code-named 112. But we had to raise the ground by 1.2 metres before we could even begin building."

Altogether, the Bristol facility employs 140 staff, including distribution at a Newton Abbot depot, near Exeter. Eighty staff work in the bakery itself.

Warburtons is the number one selling branded bakery manu- facturer in the UK, with a 32.4% share of total consumer spend on wrapped bread (source AC Nielsen 52 w/e 16/05/09) and is the UK’s second-largest grocery brand.