Fudges upgraded potential production capacity at its Salbridge, Dorset bakery due to a 250% increase in sales over the past five years. The refurbishment, which was four years in planning, began in February and took about six months to complete, a spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Steve Fudge, md of Fudges said: “With the price of raw materials constantly on the rise, we were forced to rethink how we could make the bakery more cost-effective without compromising on quality.
“Consumers are taking far more of an interest in locally- sourced, premium products than they used to, and this seems to be an area where they're refusing to budge.”
The firm is headed for record turnover and profitability during 2011, he added.
The refurbishment has introduced semi-automated production lines and made better use of the factory space.
Fudge said: “We had run out of capacity. To increase this, more automation was required which, in itself, required more production floor space. One option was to build, but we adopted a different viewpoint. We decided to critically measure how the existing floor space was being utilised.”
The firm devised a scoring system that graded existing space into three categories. Those included: space being used effectively for production; space used for production and storage of less than one hour; and storage space with goods held for more than one hour.
The evaluation revealed that existing floor space was not being used effectively so there was no need to expand the facility, said Fudge. Instead, the company expanded production into the old storage area – where the semi-automated lines were installed. The shortfall in warehousing was outsourced to a local company.
Despite the increase in automation, Fudges estimated a further 8–10 senior roles will be created by the expansion in production capacity.
The new layout and production lines mean that Fudges will now be able to produce about 15M biscuits per month, Fudge said.
Fudges bakery is a third-generation family-owned business that produces flatbreads, wafers, sticks as well as savoury and sweet biscuits for food service and retail customers including Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda.
Earlier this month, Fudges hosted the annual conference of the British Confectioners’ Association (BCA), where about 60 members shared information on best practice, trading ideas and expertise on sector-specific problems.