In January 2017 Jonathan Lill, Chief Executive for BBF, carried out an interview for Food Chain Magazine entitled Returning Investment.
‘Offering a wide selection of seasonal bakery goods as well as all year round products, Bright Blue Foods is the leading name behind some of Europe’s most recognisable licensed and own-brand cakes and pastries.
Operating with a passion for delivering the highest levels of quality in own brand and licensed brand cakes and pastries, Bright Blue Foods is a leading manufacturer in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with an extensive range of products including mince pies, mini rolls, swiss rolls, slab cakes, jam tarts, fruit pies, biscotti, celebration cakes, fairy cakes and fruit cake. The company currently employs more than 1000 staff across four factory sites and prides itself on managing a truly diverse and integrated workforce. During 2016 Bright Blue Foods produced 158 million fairy cakes, over 60 million mince pies and 111 million mini chocolate rolls – which if placed side by side would stretch from London to New York!
Bright Blue Foods serves some of the food market’s most recognisable retailers, including supermarket brands such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, ALDI, Iceland, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda, which it serves from four locations – comprised of two production facilities within Blackburn, a facility in Bradford and a further site located at the Cukiernia Mistrza Jana (CMJ) bakery in Szczecin, Poland. The company’s head office is also located at its manufacturing site in Blackburn, which includes a 5574m2 facility based on a 2.25-acre plot that produces mini rolls, fruit pies, mince pies and swiss rolls.
The company reached an important milestone during September 2015, when the transformational investment company, Endless LLP, acquired Bright Blue Foods for an undisclosed sum. The investment was the tenth acquisition for Endless throughout 2015 following its announcement in 2014 that it had raised a new fund of £525 million to invest in buyouts, non-core acquisitions from larger groups and refinancing operations. The months following its acquisition by Endless have proven to be transformational for Bright Blue Foods, with the company taking advantage of an investment of capital to invest in new market opportunities, improved manufacturing facilities and the introduction of an enthusiastic new management team. “Following its acquisition of Bright Blue Foods, Endless immediately injected capital into the company to get the business moving again. Once a new management team was put in place, we were able to get the company’s factories back under control very quickly and producing efficiently. The Endless team was then quick to work with us to identify suitable opportunities for further development of the business, with three areas ultimately being identified,” explains Bright Blue Foods CEO, Jonathan Lill. “The first of these was in the market for celebration cake, which resulted in a spend of over £1 million in our bakery in Poland. This has enabled us to deliver highly efficient production lines for celebration cakes throughout the year, as well as for seasonal products at Christmas. In recent years, there has been minimal investment in this category within the UK and further capacity has been removed from the market by the proposed closure of Food Utopia’s Avana Bakeries. This is a great opportunity for Bright Blue Foods as we are able to produce high quality celebration cakes in Poland both efficiently and at a lower cost, which gives us competitive advantage in this category.”
In addition to expanding its capabilities in the manufacture of celebration cakes, Bright Blue Foods has also invested significant capital into enhancing its existing large-scale production facilities such as its pastry lines, which combined with the development of its Polish facility has allowed the company to deliver a highly successful service level during Christmas 2016. Finally, the firm has also directed capital into its Bradford Bakery facility in the production of small cakes with an aim to increase the presence of Bright Blue Foods in this area. “Bright Blue Foods has some fantastic people who have stuck with the company through some very difficult times and who deserve to see the business back on its feet and growing,” Jonathan says. “We now have some very well invested assets that have allowed us to achieve 99.6% customer service throughout 2016 as well as recent quality recognition from the food industry for our mince pies and Christmas cakes.”
Indeed, during November 2016, it was announced that Iceland Luxury Mince Pies, produced by Bright Blue Foods, had won a Gold Q Award in the 37th Quality Food Awards, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. This recognition in the wake of a period of rapid transition and investment demonstrates that Bright Blue Foods is on course to further establish its market leading presence throughout 2017 and beyond. “We are delighted to have won the Gold Q Award. We strive to ensure all our Mince Pies are made using the most premium ingredients and feedback from all our customers is extremely positive and we are glad that the judges thought so too”. In addition to the prestigious Gold Q Award, Bright Blue Foods have also received Good Housekeeping Tried and Tested Awards for 4 of its seasonal products including mince pies and Christmas cakes and the BBC Good Food award for Christmas cake” Jonathan concludes. “In terms of growing the business, firstly, we will always be focused on our customers and consumer trends in the market. Secondly we will aim to deliver great customer service and if we continue to do that, we will have a great platform for growth. Through innovation we can deliver great products to our clients throughout the UK and Europe and this will enable us to deliver excellent returns for all the company’s stakeholders, including its customers, owners, suppliers and its hard-working staff.”’