In a turbulent and exciting year for the baking industry, British Baker looks back at the big stories from 2014.
January: The war on sugar begins
The chairman of the then just-formed campaign group Action on Sugar threatened the industry with “regulation and taxation” should bakers not voluntarily lower levels.
February: Hovis flies solo
Premier Foods announced that its bread business would operate as a standalone joint venture – known as Hovis Limited – following a conditional agreement with US company The Gores Group.
March: Patisserie Valerie goes public
Rumours began to circulate that Patisserie Valerie was to float on the stock market after the company’s underlying profit grew 24% to £12.3m.
April: Pasty company saved from soggy-bottom end
West Cornwall Pasty Company was rescued from administration by a new investment fund, for an undisclosed sum. The Gresham Private Equity-backed chain had been placed into administration with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
May: Co-op joins supermarket battle with 75p loaf
The Co-operative launched 75p own-label 800g loaves, putting itself at the front of a bread price war that experts said could spell a “race to the bottom”.
June: Morrisons announces plans to restructure
Morrisons revealed plans to cut prices and axe up to 2,600 jobs as part of a restructuring move amid the supermarket price war.
July: Row over gay cake order erupts
Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland was threatened with legal action after refusing to bake a pro-marriage cake emblazoned with Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.
August: BFP Wholesale is sold to private equity firm
Multinational yeast producer Lesaffre sold UK bakery distributor BFP Wholesale to private equity firm Zimt Holding for an undisclosed sum.
September: Bakers immerse themselves in National Cupcake Week
Bakers and retailers embraced the sixth National Cupcake Week (15-21 September 2014) with social media interaction at an all-time high and two TV appearances.
October: Finsbury creates bakery giant
Finsbury Food Group acquired Sheffield-based Fletchers Group of Bakeries for £56m in one of the biggest bakery moves this year. It made the firm one of the largest specialist bakery companies in the UK.
November: United Biscuits is finally sold
United Biscuits, owner of the McVitie’s brand, was bought by Yildiz Holding, the Turkish owner of Godiva Chocolates, for a rumoured £2bn following a drawn-out bidding war.
December: Premier Foods comes under fire over supplier policy
Premier Foods, owner of Mr Kipling, promised to ‘simplify’ its controversial investment programme after it was slammed for imposing plans to strike customers off the supplier list if payment did not arrive on time.