The Warburton family has said it is with great sadness that they mourn the passing of two brothers from the fourth-generation family baking business.

George Warburton, aged 81, father of current executive director Brett, died earlier this year and Derrick Warburton, aged 85, father of current chairman, Jonathan Warburton and sister Jill, died on 1 August 2009.

Both brothers played key roles in the business until their retirement in 1988 and, in recent years, saw the company grow, under direction of the present generation of Warburtons, into Britain’s biggest family baker with 14 bakeries and nationwide coverage. The business has come a long way from its Bolton roots.

George, born on 13 June 1927, was called into National Service in the Navy at the age of 18. After the war he spent a short time in an accountancy firm before joining the family business on the sales side.

Derrick, after studying baking at Manchester Technical School, spent three years in the RAF before joining the family business. Derrick’s passion for baking and bread in particular was the driving force behind Warburtons’ product quality.

In 1966, the fourth generation of the family took over the running of the business and George spearheaded sales expansion outside Lancashire and Cheshire by setting up the company’s first operation in Yorkshire.

Both George and Derrick studied at Harvard Business School in the 1970s and, under the guidance of the fourth generation, the business expanded into cakes, malt loaf and retail bakery shops.

Derrick extended this dedication to quality and became chairman of the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association, from 1983 to 1986.

The legacy of the brothers - and that of their generation - was to establish Warburtons as a unique player in a crowded marketplace. This, combined with Derrick’s passion for the care and skill required to make and bake a quality loaf, is now a hallmark of the company’s culture and values.