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A new horizon for Hill Biscuits

Stuart

1/18/2024 1:50:00 PM

Product Development

3 mins read

British biscuit manufacturer prepares for new era of growth as consumer demand for biscuits continues to grow.

As Hill Biscuits approaches its impressive 170th anniversary, the Manchester-based biscuit manufacturing powerhouse is navigating towards a future rooted in its rich heritage and commitment to value-for-money products. Known for its production of traditional British biscuits, the company has experienced a substantial increase in sales revenue since 2021, achieving an impressive 50% growth in 2023, with projections set to rise further in 2024.

Guided by CEO Frank Bird, who assumed the role in May 2023, Hill Biscuits is embracing its heritage and strategically positioning itself for sustained growth. With extensive bakery industry experience, including senior leadership roles at Delifrance and Aryzta, Frank takes huge pride in leading the company during this exciting phase, recognising the remarkable resilience that has characterised Hill Biscuits over the years.

The spotlight is now on the newly appointed senior team, which comprises Operations Director Simon Worth, CFO Brendon Ward-Banner, and the newly appointed Commercial Director, Tracey Meadows. Together, they are spearheading transformative initiatives to enhance working practices, focusing on improving business performance while setting new benchmarks in Quality Control, People Development, and Process Control. This underscores Hill's unwavering commitment to excellence across its operations and customer-centric principles.

Frank Bird's unique business background provides an innovative perspective to food manufacturing, enabling the company to scrutinise processes comprehensively and discover efficiency gains that benefit both the bakery and its customers. Looking ahead, Hill Biscuits will be announcing substantial investments in expanding on-site capacity throughout 2024, ensuring it meets the escalating demand for its products and the evolving requirements of its client portfolio.

In the challenging market landscape and shifting consumer trends, Hill Biscuits remains dedicated to its commitment to traditional, quality biscuits. The emphasis is on providing value for money with products such as Custard Creams, Fruit Shorties, and various other flavoured cream sandwiched biscuits, catering to evolving consumer preferences. Steve Greenhalgh, Executive Chairman, exudes confidence in Hill Biscuits' enduring legacy and strategic direction, citing the company's ability to lead on cost, value, and quality as key drivers of its success to date.

Frank added: "The senior team is now leading a transformation of the working practices at the factory, establishing new standards across the company with a data-driven approach. Our focus spans all areas of the business, developing a pivotal point on efficiency and bakery performances, whilst ensuring that quality is at the heart of our enhancements. The delivery of our plans will be supported through improving our emphasis on people development and acquiring natural succession within the business in all key roles, while also having an adaptive focus on process improvement and preventative maintenance.

Growing in a changing sector

As many biscuit manufacturers target premium products with higher mark-ups, new opportunities have been created in traditional biscuit lines such as Custard Creams, Fruit Shorties, and various other flavoured cream sandwiched biscuits.

Frank explained: “There has been a lot of movement in the market recently with some manufacturers making the decision to follow the premium trend which in turn has created opportunities for Hill’s to expand on its ability in producing traditional quality biscuits, which is what Hill is all about.”

 “In 2024 it would be great to explore potential co-manufacturing partnerships where we can relaunch our Sarah Hill brand, named after one of the founders of the company in 1855, a premium product range that includes cookie type products and potentially even coated biscuits. This move could also increase Hill’s overall market presence, creating innovative opportunities in new product ranges and for further partnerships.”

An engineer’s eye

In 1994, Frank entered the food manufacturing sector and commenced a new direction in his career journey, crossing paths with Steve Greenhalgh. Both Frank and Steve had backgrounds as engineers in the aircraft industry, experiences that equipped both with valuable insights into refining manufacturing processes and uncovering efficiency gains, skills that have proven instrumental in their subsequent careers in the food industry.

The collaboration between Frank and Steve, having previously worked together twice, has been a cornerstone of their success in leading previous businesses. One notable venture was the phenomenally successful Kate’s Cakes bakery in West Sussex, which they sold to CSM in 2007. Their triumphs are rooted in a shared vision, with Steve’s strategic insights seamlessly complementing Frank’s operational finesse.

The effective communication and mutual respect between Frank and Steve fosters an environment of innovation and adaptability. This duo's ability to leverage their individual strengths while maintaining a common goal has allowed them to weather challenges and propel business performances to new heights. Today, at the helm of Hill Biscuits, their proven relationship is now the driving force behind the current and future success of the company.

New investment

In 2024, Hill will be making significant capital investment in expanding its capacity, this investment will continue over a 12-to-18-month period delivering various key projects to meet demand and be more diverse in delivering against the customer needs

Frank highlighted: "There is an equal significance placed on process and product development, creativity should always extend to operating methods as much as product design, this is where we are focussing our capital investments. Leveraging my experiences, along with the knowledge within the team, we are meticulously scrutinising our business, identifying inefficiencies, and adjusting practices to optimise productivity, enabling us to manage capability and costs without compromising quality."

On the recent changes at Hill Biscuits, and the future investment at the factory, Steve Greenhalgh, Executive Chairman, Hill Biscuits, added: “We are confident in our strategies and excited about developing the future of the company to meet the demand for our everyday biscuits. We are in a strong position where we can lead on cost and value, with a quality range of products.”

Hill Biscuits is backed by main shareholder LDC Private Equity.

 

 

Main photo caption: The new leadership team: Top left to right: Steve Greenhalgh, Tracey Meadows, Frank Bird, Bottom left to Right: Brendon Banner, Simon Worth

 

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