Business

Family-owned bread giant, Warburtons backs next-gen bakers in new venture

One of Britain’s most well-known family businesses has formed a joint venture with an independent business accelerator to help nurture and grow new baking enterprises.

Warburtons, a fifth-generation family bakery business, is teaming up with Mission Ventures, an impact organisation led by food entrepreneurs that provide value-added assistance, advice and guidance to early-stage businesses in the food and drinks sector.

Together they have formed a 50:50 joint venture vehicle called Batch Ventures that will offer equity investment and business mentorship to emerging baking brands over the next year. 

There is a particular synergy in an accelerator and a fund working together to achieve the same objective which in this case is to help early-stage businesses grow

Businesses that “incorporate baking in their production process,” including bread, crackers as well as baking kits and baked snacks brands are encouraged to apply. Batch Ventures will take a minority stake in selected businesses in return for investing between £50,000 to £250,000.

Speaking on their involvement in the venture, Warburtons group chairman, Jonathan Warburton said in a statement: “As a fifth-generation family business, we are proud to be backing British enterprise during these uncertain times and this programme allows us to support the next generation of innovative, bakery led brands.”

Launched in 2015, Mission Ventures is led by a number of food entrepreneurs who have successfully exited their businesses and now advise others on scalable growth. The first is John Stapleton, co-founder of New Covent Garden Soup and toddler food brand Little Dish. 

Also on the board is Paddy Willis, co-founder of baby food business, Plum Baby which was sold to Darwin Private Equity after reaching sales of £14 million in five years. Nigel Parrott, a veteran food brand investor and adviser, is also part of the leadership team. In 2018, he sold his own healthy food brand, Ape Snacks, to a private investor within four years of operations.

Remarking on their decision to co-launch Batch Ventures during Covid-19, Stapleton explained that baked goods were one of the few consumer sectors that maintained a steady stream of sales during the period, proving its viability for investors.

According to the Federation of Bakers, the UK’s bakery market is currently worth £3.9 billion. A report penned by business advisers, Hallidays, goes even further and places the value of the “bakery product production industry” as a whole at £8.3 billion. Warburtons value their specific sector, namely the “wrapped bakery market” at over £2.7 billion a year, where their volume share accounts for just over a quarter of the market.

Mission Ventures is the force behind another accelerator programme called the Good Food Fund that was also launched this year. In conjunction with investment bank, Big Society Capital and seed investor, Ascension Ventures, the Good Food Fund provides debt, equity funding and business advice to food brands that are trying to tackle childhood obesity in the UK. 

One business that has benefited from the programme is nutritious snack brand, Insane Grain which is now stocked with Selfridge’s, Whole Foods and Amazon.

Speaking on the success of Mission Ventures so far, co-founder, John Stapleton told Family Capital: “We have operated the UK’s first independent accelerator for ambitious start-up brands in food and drink. Seventeen companies have participated over the past four years, securing specialist advice alongside seed funding, with the portfolio that defies market norms by growing an average 300% in valuation and showing a 90% survival rate.”

On the topic of Batch Ventures he says: “There is a particular synergy in an accelerator and a fund working together to achieve the same objective which in this case is to help early-stage businesses grow.”

Batch Ventures will be Mission Ventures’ second major accelerator project. To date, they have helped launch over 100 new food brands into the market.

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