Soaring demand for Warburtons bread has prompted the brand to build a 520,000 sq ft bakery in Bristol.

Warburtons is investing £45m in the Severn Beach-based facility, which is expected to be fully operational by December. More than 450 jobs will be created and state-of-the-art machinery will produce 1.5 million products each week.

Warburtons is the biggest bread brand in the UK with a 32.9% share of the wrapped loaf market [Nielsen 52 w/e 19 March 2008], but although chairman Jonathan Warburton claimed demand was at a record high, he recognised how distribution to retail outlets across the south west had been lacking. "We only opened our Welsh bakery in Newport two years ago but still need more capacity to meet increasing consumer demand," said Warburton. "Bristol will allow us to make a wider range of products for distribution to Wales and the south west."

News of the site was welcomed by local union officials who were steeling themselves for the 500 job losses caused by the closure of Cadbury's Bristol chocolate factory in 2010. "It is fantastic so many new jobs will be created for Bristol and Warburtons is respected for establishing decent wages and terms and conditions," said Dave Dash, regional officer for the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.