Baker & Baker, a re-branded UK bakery business, is targeting further international expansion with China a key area of focus.

The business, based in the Wirral in north-west England, has emerged under its new identity following the sale by private-equity owner Rhone of CSM Bakery Solutions’ ingredients division to European investment group Investindustrial in October.

That deal left US- and Europe-based Rhone with its North American bakery business Brill and its unnamed European bakery products arm, now called Baker & Baker.

Speaking to just-food, Baker & Baker CEO John Lindsay said the newly re-branded business, which has a legacy turnover of EUR400m (US$480.5m) will supply a European-wide and international customer base from 12 sites in seven countries.

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By GlobalData

Looking ahead, China is one Baker & Baker's list of new markets to target. In the country, a market not traditionally associated with a bread-based diet, "tastes are rapidly changing", Lindsay said. Asked if Baker & Baker is looking for a distributor of its products in China, Lindsay added the company preferred to have its own sales team "to be in charge of our destiny".

Lindsay believes China could provide a significant opportunity for the company. "We know from other companies in a similar field to ourselves that they are making good headway in China," he said. "Tastes there are rapidly changing. It is clear that the demand and hunger for Western-style bakery products are absolutely there."

Baker & Baker sells its products across channels including large supermarkets, High Street bakers and foodservice. The company also makes and distributes a range of bakery products on behalf of confectionery giant Mondelez International under the Cadbury, Oreo, Milka and Daim brand names. It also has a licensing brand agreement with entertainment major Disney. The group's trading brands include Doro, Baker & Baker and Goldfrost and product lines include doughnuts, cookies and muffins.

Lindsay, who oversees a business with 2,500 employees, said Baker & Baker wants to focus on maximising untapped growth opportunities throughout continental Europe. It already operates in markets including Germany, France, Italy and Hungary. "We are looking for relative white space across our markets in Europe," he said.

He added: "Our philosophy and strategy will be to serve key account customers and the field trade in our core markets through the development of high-quality bakery products and complemented by a strong new product pipeline.

"As many European countries and regions prepare to loosen Covid-19 restrictions during the summer, we're well-placed to see growth return with artisanal bakers and with customers in the hospitality sector."

In terms of its ambitions to grow, Lindsay is not making any big predictions. "We would all like double-digit growth but first we need to get a recovery in foodservice. We are already starting to see the green shoots there," he said. "We want to basically consolidate our growth and performance in key markets."