Bells of Lazonby is the perfect example of how a family-owned SME can take on the industry giants and prosper.
The bakery – whose customers include Waitrose and Costa Coffee – has just pulled off another coup by securing a contract to supply Premier Foods with gluten-free cakes for Premier’s Mr Kipling brand.
The deal will see Bells supply cherry Bakewells and loaf cakes to be sold in branches of Tesco.
Carolyn Longcraft, Senior Brand Manager at Mr Kipling, explained the thinking behind the new range.
She said: “Free-from is an area historically lacking in well known brand presence but, with growing demand from consumers looking to avoid certain ingredients, it felt the right time for Mr Kipling to expand into the sector.”
This was a trend that Bells saw coming 15 years ago when it established the UK’s first bakery specialising in wheat-free and allergen-free products.
Of 14 notifiable allergens, it can eliminate 12 from its production facilities.
Bells’ success is all the more remarkable given that its rural location, at Lazonby in the Eden Valley, presents particular challenges around the recruitment of staff and remoteness from its customers.
When the business, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, needed to invest to consolidate its position, it turned to Cumbria Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub for assistance.
Free-from is an area historically lacking in well known brand presence … it felt the right time for Mr Kipling to expand into the sector.
Bells secured grants from the Cumbria Growth Fund totalling £103,500 towards a £743,000 capital investment project that has created seven jobs and safeguarded another 18.
The money is being used to invest in new equipment, and to expand its apprenticeship scheme into management training, and create training and development plans for the whole workforce.
Cumbria Growth Fund was set up after Cumbria Chamber of Commerce took part in a national competitive tendering process to secure £4m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
Manufacturing businesses have been able to apply for grants of between £10,000 and £1m to support growth and competitiveness. The minimum when applying directly to an open round of the RGF was £1m – ruling out many smaller projects.
Cumbria Growth Fund has supported 44 businesses with £3.8m of grant funding, helping to create or safeguard 520 jobs and leverage £25m of private sector investment.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.