Butcher MI Dickson is extending its South Shields bakery after getting a £200,000 boost from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).The family business is investing another £800,000 in kitting out the site, which will double capacity and create five new jobs. The 2,000sq m site is adding another 575sq m to the building, allowing it to produce an extra 15 tonnes of baked goods a week.MI Dickson produces cooked meats and sausages, as well as pies, pasties and bread, which is used to make sandwiches at its 20 delicatessens around the north east. Said marketing manager Elena Dickson: “The expansion will allow us to have a much better factory for baking, cooling and packing.”Pies and pasties are sold under its own brand in Asda and Sainsbury’s shops in the region, but Dickson added that, with the extra capacity, the company hoped to be able to get into local Tesco and Morrisons stores as well, before targeting nationwide distribution. Adrian Sherwood, RDPE manager at One North East, said: “The new ovens they are buying with RDPE funding are more energy-efficient than their existing ones; the refrigeration areas are better insulated and the compressors are more efficient – together ensuring reduced energy consumption.”MI Dickson was named ‘Best UK Family Business’ in the £5m-£25m turnover category of the Coutts Prize for Family Business 2009/10 and was recently visited by David Miliband MP, who toured the factory and saw the factory plans.
Declining prices have contributed to a 1.4% drop in UK bakery turnover at Finsbury Food Group.Like-for-like group turnover at the cake, bread and morning goods supplier fell 1.1% on a constant currency basis to £314.3m, the business has reported in an update on trading for the full financial year ended 1 July 2017. Taking into account currency, group sales rose 0.3%.Finsbury said the decline in UK bakery sales had slowed from 2.9% in the first half of the year to a 0.1% increase in the second half. The company added that trading in the UK bakery division was stronger in the second half of the year versus the full 2016 financial year as prices had started to rise again.Sales in Finsbury’s overseas division rose 17.3% – although 15.1% of this was from exchange rates – and had mitigated the effect of the euro on the UK business.“Ongoing product innovation and improvements in efficiency and productivity, together with the benefits of the group’s capital investment programme, has played an important role in addressing the previously noted industry-wide challenges,” reported the company.Finsbury had previously stated it would have to put up prices, and today’s (17 July) trading update reported that the business had had “productive discussions” with its customers on this during the period.It added that it continued to monitor and review the need for further action in light of cost spikes such as the current issue with butter, which has more than doubled in price in the past 12 months.The trading update added that, despite the current pressures on the industry, Finsbury was “well equipped” to deliver growth and improved shareholder value.“The hard work undertaken in prior periods has ensured that we have maintained our course, with the benefits of having a diversified business across channels and geography coming to the fore,” said Finsbury chief executive John Duffy.“Considering the pressures the industry faces, we are very pleased to have grown revenue and are confident the group is well positioned to maintain its strong market position and continue to deliver shareholder returns.”