Warburtons has expanded outside the UK for the first time by launching into Tesco stores in four central European countries.

The baker has worked with Tesco’s group food sourcing team – which sources products that could work across the retailer’s global business – to tailor seven Warburtons-branded lines for the European market. They include a white Toastie loaf, fruit bread, brown bread, crumpets and English muffins.

All the lines are sold in the UK but have been adapted for central European shoppers, who prefer a stronger taste to British consumers.

Warburtons has also lengthened the shelf life of the products beyond the UK standard of six days, adding preservatives to extend it to 18. This allows time for transportation from the baker’s UK factories and the fact that Europeans do not get through loaves of bread as quickly as Brits.

“In central Europe, shoppers will typically buy fresh rolls daily and use wrapped loaves of bread as a store-cupboard standby,” said Warburtons new business development director Damien Ghee, who revealed the news exclusively to The Grocer at the Anuga food and drink show in Cologne this week.

“Our presence at the show – for the first time – is a sign of our new business strategy, which is to grow through expansion outside the UK and diversification into snacking,” he said, referring to the baked pitta bread snacks the baker launched into the UK market earlier this year.

The Tesco products went on sale in the Czech Republic in June, followed by launches in Slovakia and Hungary during the summer, and will roll out to Poland. Ghee said crumpets and muffins had been a hit with Tesco’s European buyers, who saw products such as muffins as a way of growing the bakery category.

Although the central European roll-out is a trial, Ghee added it might eventually make commercial sense to set up a manufacturing facility in Europe rather than ship products from the UK.

Read more
Focus On Bakery (14 May 2011)