The future looks sweet
The producer of the Lovemore Free From range, Welsh Hills Bakery supplies leading UK retailers and customers across the globe with biscuits, cakes, tarts, sweet pies and slices
Celebrating 60 years in operation in 2016, the Hirwaun-based Welsh Hills Bakery began as a family company that delivered bread to people’s homes and has since become a leading UK manufacturer of cakes, pies and tarts – with the last 15 years specifically dedicated to gluten, dairy and wheat free products. Selling across the globe, the 70-strong firm believes its personnel, from management through to its professional and competent in-house technical team, is key to its ongoing success.
With Lovemore fast becoming a market leading brand in the world of gluten free, the company has been busy with a brand refresh since it was previously featured in FoodChain magazine in November 2016. Discussing this strategic development is Managing Director of the Welsh Hills Bakery, Peter Douglass: “We launched the Lovemore brand in 2008; back then the UK was in an economic crisis and there was a bit of doom and gloom so we had mysterious black packaging with a band of different colours then some white. People liked this and would say it looked lovely, however time has passed and there is now a push away from standardisation and a focus on more eye-catching colours.”
The refreshed design includes a new logo design for the Welsh Hills Bakery, which now has a type style that appears as though each package is hand signed by a company that is proud of its high quality products. Meanwhile, the Lovemore brand has a revamped logo and packaging style, with the heart within Lovemore designed to look more similar to the graphic hills of the Welsh Hills bakery logo. Stepping away from black and white, the company’s products are now popping with colours such as bold greens, reds and purples to ensure they stand out against the competition at stores such as Morrison’s, Waitrose, Coop, Ocado and Holland & Barrett.
Completed in October 2016, this refreshing of its product range has further boosted Welsh Hill Bakery’s presence in the free from arena. “We have smashed the budget handsomely in the last quarter, with growth in the gluten free sector, customer awareness and the refreshing of our brand reflecting into our sales. We also have a very active sales team, which is led by Julian Cruttenden, our Sales Director,” says Peter. “For us it has been all about getting new customers and new lines. In fact, we have had five extra lines launched in Waitrose in July 2017. Our exceptional growth has reached the point that we will need to expand our 20,000 square feet premises; this is the next big thing on our agenda.”
The new lines launched include a gluten free fruit cake, complete with cherries and pecans, hand-decorated on top of a round cake; another new product is a bakewell cake, a sponge cake with jam and cream in the centre and icing and a cherry on the top. “We are constantly looking at new markets to delve into, particularly in terms of export. So far we have found China a big nut to crack but we have a very healthy presence in the UK that continues to grow and have witnessed increased demand in the US and Canada. This growth in these locations is due to interest in our products thanks to our involvement in allergy and free from shows; we were recently involved in a show in Berlin, so there is strong interest in Germany also.”
He continues: “I think the growth comes back to awareness as there isn’t any evidence of more people being diagnosed with coeliac disease. While approximately two per cent of the UK are affected with this, the rest of the people choosing free from foods are doing so for lifestyle reasons or because they feel better for not eating wheat. What helps with people making this choice is that we benchmark our products against the mainstream, with a focus on textures, feel, flavours and appearance, so most people wouldn’t even know that our products are gluten free when they eat them.”
Operating in the retail and food service sectors, the Welsh Hills Bakery 33aims to continue strengthening its foothold in retail while also gaining more contracts in the private sector. “We are engaged with a sales agency that has the contacts needed in the incredibly complex business of food service. Before working with this agency, we persistently tried to register with the NHS, and now we are engaged with them via sales professionals in that sector,” says Peter.
Looking ahead, the award-winning company is keen to seek opportunities to network and forge new business at exhibitions throughout the UK and Europe with the goal of increasing its presence in overseas markets. “We have also got a record order book for our Christmas products, which is just around the corner. In terms of the future of Welsh Hills Bakery, the sky is the limit, with the free from sector set to grow between 16 to 20 per cent year-on-year,” Peter concludes.