Bakery giant Warburtons shrugged off the declining wrapped bread category to post record sales and profits last year.

The brand offset the underlying decline in loaves with increased sales of other wrapped bakery products in the year to 30 September.

“Strong” volume performance, boosted by brand investment and NPD, as well as balanced recovery of input cost inflation saw its overall sales jump by 17.4% to £711.3m in the period.

This growth, along with cost management, drove a bounceback in profitability, with Warburtons posting operating profits of £32.5m from £12.8m in the previous year as it suffered from soaring cost input inflation.

Chairman Jonathan Warburton said the performance represented a “return to normal levels following a difficult period the year prior”.

However, he noted the business last year still faced a “very competitive” wrapped bread market and, particularly in the first half, “ongoing supply challenges, inflationary pressure and commodity prices”.

“We have continued to focus on long-term growth, and have invested over £200m in the last five years in our brand, our people, innovation and in our infrastructure.”

“We continue to also focus, and invest in, on the quality of our products and service while delivering category leading innovation to meet changing consumer trends.”

A recent report on the bakery category from The Grocer found that category leader was the only one of the major bread giants in growth, with Hovis and Allied both in revenue and volume decline [NIQ 24 February 2024].