Cake manufacturer pumps millions into production

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Investment, United kingdom

Johnson: 'We intend to expand production'
Johnson: 'We intend to expand production'
Bright Blue Foods, formerly McCambridge Foods’ cake business, is investing millions in its facilities in Poland and Blackburn, having secured new funding and renamed itself, according to ceo Andrew Johnson.

Johnson, whose previous posts included ceo of cakes and desserts manufacturer Elisabeth the Chef, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We will put £0.5M to £0.75M into the factory in the coming year and plan a further £3–4M over the next three years.”

That was on top of £1M already invested in the creation of a celebration cakes facility at the site since he took the helm of Bright Blue Foods, which predominantly makes own-label cakes, he said.

“We have created a clean room, temperature controlled and effectively running to high care standards,”​ said Johnson.

The Polish factory had been part of the McCambridge Foods portfolio since 2007, when it acquired the plant in turn from Interlink Food. Overall, it has supplied UK customers since 1994.

As a result of its pedigree, it is already accredited to supply major UK supermarkets, said Johnson, who added: “It supplies the UK with 85% of its output.”

Big plans

Bright Blue Foods had big plans for the site, particularly because it represented a cost-effective way to supply UK customers, he said. “Polish labour costs are less than one third UK labour costs, so the advantages on high labour content products are very good.”

The Szczecin factory, which employs 250–350 staff depending on the season, was currently running at below 60% capacity, so there was plenty of potential for further production increases, he claimed. “We intend to expand production there and slowly but surely fill it up.

“We are planning an additional line next year and an additional one or two the year after that. We will expand and increase our manufacturing density and make better use of that capacity. We currently only occupy 50% of the site.”

Further steps would include strengthening the expertise of workers and hunting for skilled personnel, he said. “We are working out how we make things more efficiently and are starting to invest in training.

“We are recruiting procurement, operations, technical and other experts to make sure we can run the factory efficiently.”

Johnson also wanted staff skilled at handmade cake decoration at the site, which could then help the business expand into crafting not just cakes, but related products such as pastries and confectionery. 

Significant investment

Bright Blue Foods also planned significant investment in its Blackburn innovation centre to centralise its innovation work with major grocery retailers, he said. “We will be investing a seven figure sum in creating a modern environment that will be fit for purpose.”

The centre employs about 25 people and he hoped it would be fully operational by June 2014.

Bright Blue Foods had also invested more than £0.5M in Swiss roll production in Blackburn and planned to pump another £1–2M into the plant in the next 12 months, he said.

The investments are backed by owner NGBI Private Equity, which also has stakes in Pasta King and Peter’s Food Services and bought Bright Blue Foods for £23.5M at the end of last year. Johnson was brought in to run the firm when the deal was struck.

In addition to UK development, he said he saw considerable potential in growing exports to northern Europe, Australia and Canada.

Bright Blue Foods has bakeries in Manchester, Bradford, Blackburn, Salisbury and Szczecin.

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Related topics: Bakery

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