warburtons muppets ad

Sales: £695.3m (-2.8%)

The most sensational, inspirational Warburtons show is still running. The production was hit by the supermarket price war, doing £19.8m of damage, but compared with the shaky staging of its wrapped rivals, and with the plant bread simultaneously affected by changing consumer habits, the loss, which was combined with a 1.2% volume sales increase, looks like a very credible performance.

Inevitably, the advertising stole the show.

As head of the family bakery, Jonathan Warburton has been featuring in its advertising for years but in April 2015 Warburton took this personal touch to a whole new level, featuring alongside Sylvester Stallone in The Deliverers, a lavish campaign to highlight the lengths to which Warburtons goes to deliver over two million loaves of fresh bread to more than 18,000 stores every day.

He followed this up six months later with a big song and dance number featuring almost the entire cast of the Muppets - Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, the Swedish Chef, Sweetums, Fozzie Bear, Statler & Waldorf - for the debut of Giant Crumpets. The first-to-market NPD has performed well for being a fits-the-toaster innovation, says Warburtons. It also says that its Thin Bagels, its sandwich alternatives range, has sold more than 4.6 million units since launching last April.

Both the crumpets and the bagels were supported by the opening of another sandwich alternatives plant in Burnley in May at a cost of £20m, and, five months later, a £7m crumpet plant at the Bolton bakery.

The year also saw a number of new product launches from its Free From sub-brand Newburn Bakehouse, including Classic White Artisan Loaf and White Sourdough Artisan Cob (April 2015) and Mini Wholegrain Wraps (October 2015). “The main pressures that faced the category and the business over the last 12 months are not dissimilar from those facing the wider food industry as a whole; however in spite of this, Warburtons has continued to perform well,” says a spokeswoman for the company.

Warburtons also became the first food manufacturer to make The Sunday Times’ Top 25 Best Big Companies list late last month.