Northern Bloc founders (l-r) Dirk Mischendahl and Josh Lee

Northern Bloc founders (l-r) Dirk Mischendahl and Josh Lee

Northern Bloc has scooped up two artisan ice cream businesses as it continues its drive for growth.

The acquisitions of Criterion Ices and Marine Ices will boost revenues by an additional £2m.

The Leeds-based ice cream maker’s new 30,000 sq ft factory is also now fully operational, increasing capacity 300%.

Northern Bloc said the new HQ and acquisitions would enable it to accelerate growth and expand into new channels and territories.

Founded in 2014, the company makes dairy and plant-based ice cream, supplying supermarkets, restaurants and theatres. It received £1.5m private equity backing in 2021 from Mobeus Equity Partners to expand its vegan offering.

Criterion Ices and Marine Ices are both based in the South East and manufacture dairy ice cream using traditional methods. Criterion supplies theatres, as well as restaurants, while Marine Ices can be found in parlours across the south of England.

Northern Bloc co-founder Dirk Mischendahl said: “For some time we’ve been looking for new partners to work with as a way to grow our business.

“With our new production facility and the capacity that brings, now is the perfect time to take that step. We’re now set up to compete in this challenging environment and deliver the volumes we need to, whilst staying true to our values and, importantly, our Leeds roots.”

He added the acquisitions opened new channels for Northern Bloc and also have the business a dedicated distribution site in London, which is currently being equipped to support the new Leeds HQ.

“The acquisition of two well-established, heritage brands in dairy ice cream will allow us to continue to explore and innovate and develop Northern Bloc’s product offer, something which we’ve always been passionate about,” Mischendahl said.

“In time, we’ll work with Criterion and Marine to showcase their heritage and quality, whist mirroring the sustainable manufacturing processes of Northern Bloc.”

Northern Bloc places sustainability at the heart of the business, scoring a first in the UK in 2020 as it launched biodegradable tubs into retail.

The new Leeds factory is 200% more efficient than the previous manufacturing site, with the three production lines supported by sustainable innovations, including energy efficient chilling systems, LED lighting and a heat recovery system.

Solar panels are also being installed, which will eventually deliver 70% of the site’s power. The premises is also set to save 70 tankers of water per year and 2.7 tonnes of plastic, with a new packaging innovation set to launch this year.

The factory also boasts a new ice cream innovation lab and customer tasting room.