The best thing since sliced bread - we go behind the scenes of Stevenage megabakery after £31m cash boost
- Credit: Archant
Kingsmill, Allinson, Sunblest and Burgen – all these breads are baked on our doorstep. Allied Bakeries first opened in Cartwright Road in Stevenage in 1974 and was one of the first businesses to occupy that area.
One of nine Allied Bakeries in the UK, it employs about 300 people and produces about 1.8 million loaves a week – that’s enough bread to fill five Olympic-sized swimming pools.
As part of a £210m five-year programme for all Allied Bakeries, the Stevenage site has benefited from a new bread plant which is capable of producing 9,000 loaves an hour.
The investment also includes the installation of new equipment such as silos, ingredients systems, mixers, an oven with a capacity for 3,000 loaves, a cooler and bread conveyors.
General manager Russell Zaple said: “We are proud to have benefited from this investment, which supports the bakery in enhancing production, developing new products, and reinforcing the high standards of consistency and quality in our baking process.”
Nick Law, operations director, said: “As a direct result of our investment, Allied Bakeries now has some of the most modern bakeries in the world and has a solid foundation upon which to compete in a value driven market.
“Our customers and consumers are seeing the benefits of our investment – market-leading innovation, one of the most varied bakery product portfolios, and consistently high quality products.
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“We have also enhanced the working environment for our people while significantly reducing our impact on the environment.”
One man who has seen a lot of change over the decades is planning and materials manager Norman Lamont, who has been with the company for 38 years.
He began his career as an apprentice baker in his native Scotland, and when he moved to Stevenage he continued to work as a baker and landed a job at Allied Bakeries.
“I started off putting trays on the line when we had a roll plant,” he said.
“I have had about seven or eight roles since then. Things have changed in terms of technology, with the addition of computers moving into the planning side of things, but the basic principles are the same.”
Norman is now responsible for the ingredients and for ensuring orders are completed on time.
“I enjoy the daily challenge of the deadlines we have to meet,” he said.
“It’s seven days a week. I might be here Monday to Friday but, as a manager, I also have a close eye on things over the weekend. I never switch off.”
Norman’s sons, Andrew and Craig, have followed in his footsteps and now also work at the Stevenage bakery.
Manufacturing technician Craig started in 2007, and production planner Andrew joined in 2013.
The bakery is operational 24/7 and, as well as delivering their own products, the Stevenage bakery receives goods from other Allied Bakeries and distributes about 5,000 different product lines – everything from wraps and rolls to crumpets and muffins.
So, while you are sleeping at night, vehicles are being loaded with freshly baked goodies which will be in store by the time you wake.