Genius Foods to spend ‘millions’ on Finsbury sites

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Finsbury food group Gluten-free diet

Genius boss Roz Cuschieri pledged to invest millions in the newly acquired production sites
Genius boss Roz Cuschieri pledged to invest millions in the newly acquired production sites
Genius Foods will invest millions of pounds developing the Livwell and United Central Bakery (UCB) production sites in Hull and West Lothian, following the firm’s £21M acquisition of the companies last week.

Roz Cuschieri, ceo of Genius Foods, told that the acquisitions​ of the two Finsbury Food Group subsidiaries will enable the firm to invest in new manufacturing capabilities that will grow the Genius brand.

“Production will increase at these sites; there is also scope for further investment that will lead to an increased range and quality of products,” ​said Cushieri.

Despite developments in the gluten-free market, it is still very difficult for coeliacs to enjoy a variety of foods, she added.

“This acquisition gives us the potential to change this​,” she said. “We have loads of new product ideas and these investments in our capabilities will allow us to create a wide range of products.”

‘You can’t fail’

Free-from expert Michelle Berriedale-Johnson said: “We would all like to see a wide choice of foods available, because for so many years if coeliacs or allergy suffers wanted a variety they would have to cook it themselves. This is no longer the case. If you can do it and market it, you can’t fail.”

Berriedale-Johnson added that the success of new products would lie with improving the quality of current products, while bringing the price down.

Cuschieri added that the “multi-million-pound” ​investment will also lead to increased production capacity to cater for the growing gluten-free market.

The sector’s double-digit growth is likely to continue due to more consumers opting for a free-from diet for health and lifestyle reasons, claimed Cuschieri.

She estimated that 16% of the UK has a gluten-free diet, with a further 16% considering adopting one.

“Popular figures such as tennis players Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have both chosen a gluten-free lifestyle and that is helping influence people to choose a gluten-free diet,” ​she added.

Celebrity endorsements

Last year market analyst Mintel announced that celebrity endorsements​ had boosted the free-from food market, which now totals £342M.

Genius Foods estimated its annual turnover would increase from £20M to £50M in 2013, due to increased consumer interest in gluten-free foods, new product development, enhanced capacity and its export plans.

Berriedale-Johnson said: “This is a perfectly good aim. I do see the market continuing to grow significantly, so why not.”

Genius Foods and Livwell products are currently available in North America and Canada. Last year Genius struck a deal to provide products to Spain​.

John Duffy, chief executive of Finsbury Foods, said: “Given Genius’s international growth ambitions and the synergies available to the combined entity, there is strong commercial logic in the acquisition.”

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