Bakery on the rise

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A MAJOR investment deal set to “revive the Hovis brand” has raised hopes for staff at a famous Wigan bakery.

US investment firm The Gores Group has paid £30m for a controlling 51 per cent stake in the bread brand, with Premier Foods retaining control of the remainder.

And as part of the lucrative deal, both parties have agreed to invest £45m which in turn will “unlock a £200m five-year investment programme” for Hovis.

Bakery Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) representative Ronnie Draper told the Evening Post the sale could be good news for the workforce at the Cale Lane bakery in New Springs.

He said: “It is early days, cautious optimism is a good way to describe our reaction.

“We will be looking to meet with company representatives in the coming days to work out what this deal will mean for employees.

“But we will be asking questions about jobs and pension plans as soon as we can.”

The business will continue to operate under the Hovis name with the major investment raising hopes of

long-term job security for current workers. BFAWU members endured a turbulent period last year after a succession of strikes took place about the use of zero-hours contracts.

The issue was resolved in September when Premier Foods agreed to the use of agency staff only when “temporary labour shortages” could not be covered by “existing employees utilising overtime and banked hours”.

The £200m five-year joint investment programme will be used “to improve (the company’s) operational infrastructure and reinvigorate the Hovis brand.”

Details of the deal include that “all baking employees are expected to transfer to the new venture following an appropriate consultation process.”

Premier Foods chief executive Gavin Darby said: “This is exciting news for the bread business and a great deal for Premier Foods. We can now focus our attention on developing our category leading grocery brands.

“I’m delighted that we’ve found a strong partner in the Gores Group who will help provide the investment necessary to develop the bread business.

“Both parties are excited by the opportunities this transaction brings.”

Fernando Goni, managing director at Gores Group, said: “We are excited to partner with Premier Foods to revive the Hovis brand and spearhead reinvestment across the bread business.

“We believe there is significant untapped potential in such a well-loved, household name. We are convinced that Hovis offers a perfect fit for our unique capabilities.”