A touch of Genius in purchase of city bakery

GENIUS Foods, a gluten-free food specialist, has acquired the Livwell bakery in Hull as part of its £21m purchase of United Central Bakeries from Finsbury Foods.

Genius, a four-year-old business with a turnover of nearly £20m, said the acquisition also includes the UCB facility near Edinburgh. It said it plans to invest in the bakeries, which were already manufacturers of Genius products. Livwell bakery in Hull has 80 staff.

Sir Bill Gammell, who became chairman of Genius in March 2012, declined to disclose the turnover of the Livwell bakery, but said that with the acquisitions and plans for growth he expects Genius to hit £50m turnover this year.

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He added: “From the staff’s point of view it’s business as usual but we are looking for opportunities to see if there’s additional capability here (in Hull).”

Genius says it has a 50 per cent share of the UK gluten-free bread market, while its products are also available in North America and Spain. It has plans to debut in further overseas markets later this year.

Roz Cuschieri, chief executive, said: “The acquisition of these two bakeries will be transformational for Genius and will enable us to accelerate the development of the gluten-free bakery products.

“Our customers are constantly looking to us to bring further innovation to the market and owning our own production capability will enable us to better meet that demand.

“The bakeries already produce Genius products and this acquisition is the natural next step in the evolution of the successful joint venture that existed between our two businesses since January 2011.

“We intend to invest in the bakeries and the team that work there. Genius is a fast-growing business and our intention is to invest to cope with the increasing demand for our products.”

Former Scottish & Newcastle and C&C Group chief executive, John Dunsmore, a non-executive director at Genius is now deputy chairman, while Stella Morse, former finance director at Heineken UK, was recently appointed as chief financial officer.

John Duffy, the chief executive of Finsbury Foods, said: “The sale will allow Finsbury to invest in its core cake and speciality bread business to drive further growth both organically and by acquisition.”

HSBC provided a funding package of £7.5m to facilitate the acquisition.