State of the art development
The distribution centre will be state of the art, with plenty of interesting innovations such as differently-sized trucks. Automatic very narrow aisle trucks will be able to serve aisles which are laid out for the high-volume orders. For mixed product orders, semi-automatic wide aisle trucks will be used. This is in a bid to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint.
The 7,432 metre squared site will have enough room for more than 10,000 individual pallets, and will be the new home of finished goods for British Bakels. This will in turn free up room at their main site, which can be used to increase efficiency and increase production.
“Bolstered by a range of ride-on trucks, the state-of-the-art centre allows us to optimise service levels across our customer base and product range,” said a statement from the company.
The centre will also have the capacity for two additional office floors, which means that the company can later add more boardroom or training facilities as and when they are needed. These will bring in additional opportunities alongside the facilities that already exist at their main site. The location was also selected as it provides easy access to the national road network, which is perfect for trucks moving in and out of the facility.
Committed to the local area
The Managing Director of British Bakels, Paul Morrow, had many positive things to say about the new site. He said: “This is only the latest, although largest, investment Bakels has made since acquiring the site on Launton Road in 1986. Our number of food employees has risen from six in 1990 to 210 today. We are fully committed to Bicester as centre of our UK operations.”
It is not clear if any new jobs will be created from the new facility itself, but it has to be assumed that new workers will be needed to manage a site of such a size – even if some of the workload is taken by automated trucks. There will likely be opportunities for food transport jobs, too, if the increased site footprint allows them to increase their output and therefore increase the number of ingredients orders they are sending out.
This new investment seems to be a sign of the overall improvement in the bakery market. In fact, analyst Kantar Worldpanel only recently announced that the market has returned to growth of 2.5%, a very positive omen for companies like British Bakels. They will want to cross their fingers that this growth continues, giving them more demand from their clients and helping them to grow their business yet further.
While Morrow mentioned developments over the past 28 years of the company’s life, their history in fact goes much further back than that. Bakels was actually founded in Amerstdam in 1904, but it was in the 1940s that expansion truly began to flourish. Under the guidance of a scion of the Bakels family, 1943 was the year that Nordbakels opened in Germany. It was swiftly followed by South Bakels, Irish Bakels, and British Bakels.
By the 1950s they were expanding to New Zealand, Australia, and Zimbabwe, as well as launching some of their most recognisable products. Many of these are still in production today, albeit after many evolutions.