Chichester cake-makers saved along with 150 jobs

Caron Howe with Irene Bernotiene in the bakery in 2011. Picture Kate Shemilt
Caron Howe with Irene Bernotiene in the bakery in 2011. Picture Kate Shemilt

Much-loved Chichester cake-makers More Food Ltd has been saved after the company was bought by Sussex Bakes -saving 150 jobs.

More Food Ltd – which has been supplying handmade cakes and tray bakes to bakeries and major retailers for 25 years – went into administration on September 1 because of spiralling costs.

Immediately following the administration, the bakery business and assets of the company were sold as part of a ‘going concern sale’ to Sussex Bakes.

The sale will ensure continuity to the company’s customers and has saved the jobs of 150 staff, administrators Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group said.

Director Andrew Duncan said: “The sale of the business via a pre-pack ensures the continued employment of all 150 members of staff and means that work at the bakery can continue as it did before under the new ownership of Sussex Bakes.”

Whilst More Food was incorporated in 2003, the business had been trading for more than 25 years and began when the founding director, Caron Howe, and a close friend started their own coffee shop business in Chichester, which they named Upstairs Downstairs, serving homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches.

Upstairs Downstairs quickly became popular with locals and visitors alike.

The coffee shop’s popularity didn’t go unnoticed, and local wholesalers eventually began to approach them to supply them with baked products.

As demand grew, Caron Howe decided to sell the coffee shop business and concentrate on the wholesale supply of cakes and other confectionery products, incorporating More Food and taking on a leasehold factory premises in Chichester in 2003.

The business traded successfully for a number of years, continuing to grow until it was achieving turnover in excess of £8m per annum.

To support the growing business, the directors decided to move to a new, purpose-built, 8,000 square feet factory premises in Rutland Way, east of the city.

The costs of the move and the fit out of the new premises were substantial and, combined with recent increases in the price of raw materials following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, placed substantial strain on the business, Leonard Curtis said.

Despite seeking additional investment, the directors were ultimately unable to save the business, which entered into administration on September 1.

More Food supply cakes to major retailers, such as Budgens and Waitrose as well as international sandwich shop chains.

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