As the popularity of Sheldon’s Lancashire Oven Bottom Muffin spreads across the UK, recent investment has promoted quality, consistency and efficiency of production

Famous in the north-west region for many years, Sheldon’s has seen significant growth in its brand in recent years, in particular for its Lancashire Oven Bottom Muffin, for which the company has secured national listings in four major retailers over the past year.

The rate of sale per store per week is so high that Sheldon’s Lancashire Oven Bottom Muffin can now be found even in smaller shops, such as central London convenience stores with very little space and minimal ranges.

“It is fantastic to see our signature product performing so well down south and further north,” says Director Sarah Sheldon. “The fact that shelf space has been allocated for this product when space is at such a premium in the convenience stores is a real testament to the performance of this unique, high-quality, versatile product.”

In addition to massive growth of the brand, sales of the Sheldon’s 12-pack sliced baps and 6 sliced hot dog rolls have accelerated, particularly in the barbeque season and party seasons, and for celebrations such as Bonfire Night and Halloween.

New artisan range

To complement the existing range, Sheldon’s has developed a new artisan range with a luxurious feel and taste, which is due to be launched this year. This new range builds on the strong brand foundations the company already has, based on excellent quality products.

Other recent product launches include a high-quality brioche developed in partnership with a French company for authenticity. A great success, both in terms of sales and customer feedback, these product launches have been winning the company new listings in a range of outlets.

Investment and automation

A recent £1m investment in roll-making equipment has streamlined the production process and there has been further investment in the development of robotic automation over the past six months, with the expectation of moving forward with this as soon as practically possible.

The business has also just placed orders for two new state-of-the-art dough-mixing machines, as well as a conveyor system with an automatic tray turntable for its second factory. This facility was set up in 2009 close to the current site to manage increasing demand for products.

“The recent investment puts us in a position of strength in terms of securing 100% order fill for the customers, particularly if the weather is good, as we see phenomenal spikes in the demand for our rolls,” explains Sarah Sheldon. “Putting money back into the business assists with quality, consistency and efficiency, as well as offering health and safety benefits.”

A new dedicated Transport Manager has been taken on to help with the increased national coverage and the company is in the process of recruiting a couple of apprentice engineers. “The maintenance of machinery is absolutely key in a fast-moving manufacturing facility with a short shelf life product and orders that can have huge spikes at very little notice,” says Sarah Sheldon. “As the saying goes: ‘If you look after your machines they will look after you!’”

The upshot of the new listings and investment is that turnover has reached £16m for the current financial year and Sheldon’s has once again secured a double A plus grade at its most recent BRC food safety audit.

A heritage still celebrated today
Established in 1949 as GH Sheldon, the company was able to draw on the experience of its founder Harold Sheldon, who had worked in bakeries since 1924. His son Graham took over in 1973 and the Manchester-based company changed its name from G.H. Sheldon Wholesale Bakers Limited to Sheldon’s in 2014, undergoing a major rebrand and changing its packaging to present the company’s heritage and new products in appealing new light.

The business today counts several major multiples, foodservice and other large bakeries among its customer base, including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, and the Co-op, along with a number of independent retailers across the UK and in Ireland.

“We’re good at dealing with the big volume orders that come in at short notice,” says Sarah Sheldon. “Retailers want that availability on shelf and we’ve learnt to cater for that requirement.”

Looking ahead

“There is a big demand for bread rolls and consumers want to buy quality,” says Sarah Sheldon. “We have challenges along the way, as all companies do. One example is the huge increase in cheese prices we have seen over the past couple of years.”

In the short term, Sheldon’s goal is to significantly increase the company’s brand growth and exposure by continuing with ongoing marketing activity, securing further national coverage and continuing to offer top quality products and excellent service.

“The long-term goal is to spread the brand in order to maintain a healthy business and keep employing our trained, loyal workforce,” says Sarah Sheldon.

With a suite of products that includes classic favourites and exciting new launches, and the facilities to satisfy ever-increasing customer demand, Sheldon’s is on course to meet its goals and continue to flourish moving forward.

Tel: 0161 2236276

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