Plant baker Warburtons is reported to be looking for further sites in the south of England as part of its strategic plans to become the nation’s leading bakery brand by 2010.
Speaking at a celebration last week to mark the 150th anniversary of independent flour miller Jas Bowman & Sons, former Investec analyst David Lang said Warburtons was looking for suitable locations in Bristol and Kent or Sussex to improve its distribution in the south of the country.
Currently bakery deliveries in the south are made primarily from Warburtons' modern facilities in Enfield in north London. But it will need to expand production to other sites if it is to fulfil its growth plans. In an indication of its serious intent, Lang reported that Warburtons’ capital account spend to date was around £200M. “As it grows it is supporting independent milling investment,” he added.
Lang reported that Warburtons was in a pitched battle for supremacy with two other leading brands Premier-owned (formerly RHM) Hovis and Allied Bakeries’ Kingsmill, but that the latter was “fighting for its survival”, with Allied’s results “diabolical”. “Allied is starting to look vulnerable,” said Lang, who said the company’s parent Associated British Foods might be looking to offload the business.
Although Warburtons has said it was striving for a 30% national market share by 2010, Lang said he expected the true target was more likely over 40%. Even though it had ambitious growth targets, Lang doubted a flotation of the family-owned business was part of the Warburtons' strategic plans.