Bakery firm Gruppo Morato has bought a production site in France from fellow Italian food manufacturer Barilla.

The facility, located in the northern French city of Gauchy, was part of the Harrys Restauration business and complex owned by family-run Barilla. The cost of the transaction was not disclosed by Gruppo Morato, which now has a manufacturing presence in France for the first time.

Barilla will retain four factories on the same Harrys site, a business that supplies hamburger buns.

Gruppo Morato said the acquired factory will provide additional production capacity to “strengthen” its business in Europe. The company now has 16 production facilities, with the other 15 located in Italy and Spain.

The business gained access to a further three plants in Italy last year, when it acquired a majority, yet undisclosed stake, in gluten-free bakery firm NT Food.

CEO Stefano Maza said in a statement: “The acquisition of the Gauchy plant is part of the strategic expansion plan in Europe. [It] will allow the group to consolidate its presence in a strategic country, not only because of the growth opportunities offered by the domestic market but also because, given its geographical location, will allow us to strengthen our offer to the countries of Northern Europe.”

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Barilla confirmed the factory sale with Just Food but did not provide a statement.

Maza added Gruppo Morato is aiming to increase sales overseas to 50% of its turnover from 40% currently.

Generating annual revenue in excess of EUR300m (US$323.9m), the company is based in Altavilla Vicentina in northern Italy. The company produces branded bread, bruschetta, sweet and savoury sandwiches, and wraps. It also supplies private label and serves B2B customers as well.

In 2021, Gruppo Morato acquired local bakery business Ro.Mar, which produces bread for B2B customers and own label. The previous year it also bought gluten-free baker Pandea from Italy’s Granarolo.