Bakery giant targets further international growth after securing £6.7m funding

Paul Baker, left, and Jeremy Gilboy

Manchester-based Carrs Foods, which this month rebranded to St Pierre Groupe, has secured an investment of £6.7m from BGF and partner Lloyds Bank, facilitated by Grant Thornton.

At the same time, it has announced the appointment of David Milner, former chief executive of Tyrrells, who comes on board as non-executive chairman.

The investment in the group, which includes brands St Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood, is to accelerate international growth as well as investing behind digital channels to enable more direct and closer communication with consumers.

Originally established in 1986 as part of a large European bakery group, the business now commands a turnover of £69m, compared with £49m in 2017, and £16m in 2010.

St Pierre Groupe is forecast to double its turnover in the next three years to £150m by 2022.

The company’s products are currently stocked in 20,000 stores worldwide, with 60% of its distribution in the US.

The appointment of David Milner, who took Tyrrells, a quintessential English snack brand, and made it an international success that changed hands in 2016 for £300m, equips St Pierre Groupe with additional experience and expertise to expand the global reach of its portfolio.

The investment also paves the way for its ambitious growth strategy, enabling it to increase its penetration in existing markets and introduce new product development.

Jeremy Gilboy, who founded the bakery business with Paul Baker, said: “Both the new investment and the appointment of a chairman of David’s stature gives us great opportunity to meet our targets and continue growing at a significant pace.

“We’ve worked hard to be where we are today, having grown from being a British family-run company into a fast-growing global bakery business.”

David Milner added: “I am thrilled to be part of the St Pierre Groupe journey.

“I recognise many similarities in its working practises with those we adopted at Tyrrells.

“Here at St Pierre Groupe we have a quality product in a market desperate for supply.

“The company’s growth in the past decade has been genuinely exciting and the international expansion and new product development gives us huge scope to go to the next level.”

BGF Investor Matt Widdall said: “The team at St Pierre Groupe has grown the business exceptionally well over the last few years, making it highly scalable across multiple channels and geographies.

“We’re looking forward to working with them to bring their fantastic portfolio to more retailers in the US and supporting them as they continue to expand their brand on a global scale.”

The investment is the latest addition to BGF’s portfolio of food and drink businesses, which includes Coopland & Son, the UK’s third largest bakery chain, healthy eating company Muscle Food, and recipe box subscription service Gousto.

The investment was led for BGF by Matt Widdall, Pinesh Mehta and Rhys Davenport. Ben Barker has joined the board.

Ben Clarke, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “St Pierre Groupe is a classic example of a fast-growing business whose ambition and emphasis on quality has attracted global demand.

“For regional businesses to become internationally-recognised brands it’s vital that they have the correct funding and support network in place to grow.

“It’s for these reasons that we’ve pledged to lend £18bn to UK businesses this year, with £1.3bn of this earmarked to go to firms across the North West.”

Matthew Bryden Smith and Jacob Leone from Grant Thornton Corporate Finance in Manchester advised the company on the BGF investment.