Warburtons has achieved national distribution for the first time in its 130-year history.
Jonathan Warburton, chairman of Britain’s biggest independent plant bakery, told British Baker: “We are going national with Tesco at the end of this month, which is marvellous. In addition, we have gained huge distribution with Somerfield.”
He said many millions of pounds have been invested in the Enfield and Tuscany Park, Wakefield, bakeries. And the sites purchased from New Rathbones – Stockton in the north and Newport in South Wales, which opens at the end of the month – will add both capacity and distribution.
He also praised the relationship Warburtons’ commercial managers have built up over the years with the supermarket category management teams. “It has been a terrific effort and is now coming to fruition,.”
Speaking to British Baker at a party held to celebrate the company’s 130th birthday, Warburton added: “National distribution has been our aim for some time and is a massive challenge in logistics.
“Obviously, the Enfield plant has played a significant part, but it is not the whole story. South Wales is also strategically important. We are moving from 80% coverage to 100%, rolling out much more in the South, so it is a major landmark in our company’s history.”
Warburtons is supplying Tesco with a range of breads, and is adding rolls and ‘occasion’ goods, such as crumpets.
The company’s head office is based in Bolton and the North West has traditionally been Warburtons’ stronghold, with its first bakery built in Bolton.
As Warburton addressed partygoers at the celebratory event in London, he said: “We began in 1876, the year General Custer was killed and I can’t help wondering what my great, great grandfather would be thinking to see us now celebrating in the shadow of Nelson’s column on a hotel rooftop overlooking Trafalgar Square in London.”
He continued: “In four weeks time we will have over 20 sites stretching from Aberdeen to Newton Abbot. We have 4,050 employees and while we have achieved many milestones in our 130 years we look enthusiastically to the future.”
He told British Baker the company was also increasing distribution with Sainsbury’s. He said products were “creeping into their Local stores format nationwide from this weekend”.