Village Bakery sourdough M&S

Village Bakery’s premium sourdough for M&S

M&S bread supplier Village Bakery has been acquired by French family bakery group Menissez for an undisclosed sum.

It follows The Grocer revealing last week that the premium own-label bread maker was on the verge of signing a deal with a European trade player after kicking off a search for a new investment partner earlier this year.

Menissez has taken over the controlling stake in the Wrexham-based business from London-headquartered private equity firm Limerston Capital.

It gives the French group, which supplies a small range of part-baked sourdough baguettes to the likes of Sainsbury’s and Costco, a production platform to expand in the UK.

Founded in 1965 in the north of France by the Menissez family, the group specialises in frozen and pre-cooked bread.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed but The Grocer reported in March that Limerston was pushing for an 8x EBITDA multiple, which would value Village Bakery at £160m.

The existing Village senior management team, headed by MD Robin Jones and brother Christien, will continue to run the business following the change of ownership, as well as retaining a shareholding.

The deal caps a remarkable turnaround for the family-run business after a major fire destroyed a third of its production capacity in 2019.

Village now operates from a 35-acre campus in the heart of Wrexham, made up of four separate production facilities and including a 140,000 sq ft ‘super bakery’ opened in 2021.

Since Limerston bought a majority stake in early 2021, the business has undergone a period of rapid growth, with revenues doubling and staff numbers expanding to more than 900-strong.

Turnover soared 42% to £98m in the year ended 24 September 2023, with the company moving from an operating loss of £4m to profit of £1.4m as it negotiated price increases to offset inflation.

Jones thanked Limerston for its “input, support and playing a part in growing Village Bakery into what it is today”.

“We can all be very proud of our achievements over the past three years, the quality of the platform that we have built and the exciting future for the business working with Groupe Menissez,” he said

Limerston founding partner João Rosa added: “We are delighted to have exited Village Bakery ahead of plan, following a period of significant investment, development and rapid growth for the company.

“Supported by the Limerston operating partners, the Village Bakery management team deserve enormous credit for their commitment and diligence in delivering the highest standards of product quality and best-in-class service to their loyal customers while doubling group sales since the opening of the super-bakery. We wish the team well and are delighted that Groupe Menissez will be overseeing the company’s next phase of growth.”

Village Bakery can trace its history in Wales back to 1934 and is today run by the third generation of the Jones family, with Alan Jones taking on the Wrexham bakery in 1964 and transforming it from a regional player to the number one supplier of private label baked goods to supermarkets.

Today, its range of traditional bread, rolls, bagels, scones, crumpets, pancakes, pies, pastries and Welsh cakes are supplied to the likes of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Ocado and Co-op.

M&S accounts for a large proportion of group sales, with Village producing the retailer’s premium own label sourdough.

Village featured in M&S’s Tom Kerridge-fronted ‘Farm to Foodhall’ advertising campaign last year, with Robin Jones starring alongside Kerridge in the ad, introduced as ‘M&S Master Baker’.

US investment bank Stephens acted as financial advisor to Limerston, while CMS Law advise on the legal side, with support from KPMG (financial & tax) and PwC (commercial) on due diligence.