Hull bakery Livwell set to expand after being bought by Genius Foods
A HULL bakery business that employs more than 80 people is set for expansion after being snapped up by another firm.
Livwell Bakery in Main Street, off Fountain Road, has been bought by Genius Foods, the UK gluten-free food specialist.
The deal forms part of Genius's £21m acquisition of United Central Bakeries from Finsbury Foods, which also includes the UCB facility near Edinburgh.
Finsbury bought Livwell in April 2008 for £9.6m and has been producing products sold under the Genius brand since December 2010.
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Despite being less than four years old, Genius has already established itself as the market leader in gluten-free foods with a turnover of almost £20m.
It currently boasts more than a 50 per cent share of the UK gluten-free bread market and this figure is set to rise as Genius takes control of its own manufacturing facilities.
Sir Bill Gammell, who became chairman of Genius in March last year, said: "I see gluten-free as a very much expanding market place – the opportunities are huge.
"Having control of our own manufacturing facilities puts us in a very good position to expand and innovate new products.
"We think the brand and its products can be extended but the key is to ensure the product quality remains really high.
"As a coeliac myself, I am very excited by Genius's vision to create gluten-free foods that everyone can enjoy.
"If we can expand capacity, we will look to do that but, at present, it is a case of seeing what investment goes where."
Roz Cuschieri, chief executive of Genius, said the acquisitions will be "transformational for Genius" and will enable the group to accelerate the development of the company's gluten-free range of bakery products, saying: "The bakeries already produce Genius products and this acquisition is the natural next step in the evolution of the successful joint venture that existed between our two businesses since January 2011.
"We intend to invest in the bakeries and the team that work there.
"Genius is a fast-growing business and our intention is to invest to cope with the increasing demand for our products. We are also looking forward to stretching the Genius brand into other food categories, where great tasting gluten-free food is difficult to find."
HSBC has provided a funding package of £7.5m to facilitate the acquisition.