Fourth generation family bakery celebrates 80th year in business

A family-run bakery business is celebrating its 80th year with rising orders for the likes of John Lewis and Asda as well as sandwich shops, secondary schools and London cafes.

Barnsley-based White’s Bakery manufactures a wide range of cakes, cookies and bread products for wholesale and retail customers.

The fourth generation business has seen a steep increase in orders in the last four years and now has a turnover of £2.6 million and employs 56 people at its Worsbrough Bridge bakery and four South Yorkshire shops.

White’s has now launched a new marketing drive to build on success and attract more customers in its 80th anniversary year.

Managing director David White said:

“We are always handling fresh enquiries and repeat orders and have an excellent relationship with our existing customers whether they are the local corner shop or a national food production company.

“We’ve had four straight years of growth, following the quieter years of recession, and what we’d like to do now is expand our customer base further. We have the capacity to expand so we are stepping up our marketing drive.”

Whites’ business growth strategy is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

The family bakery business was established in 1934 by David’s grandparents Albert and Elsie White. David’s dad and uncle, Jack and Colin, then joined the company and David took over as MD in 1996.

His son Mathew is leading on the new marketing initiative to boost their expanding order books.

Recent new orders include a contract to design and bake Victorian gingerbread figures – gentlemen and ladies – to celebrate John Lewis’ 150th anniversary.

This is not the first time White’s has baked for the department store as they also produced ‘The Bear and the Hare’ decorated biscuits which accompanied John Lewis’ huge Christmas campaign in 2013.

Another order will see more than 200,000 Madeira cakes baked by White’s on the shelves of Asda stores in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the run up to Christmas this year.

The sponge cakes are a particular festive favourite in these parts of the UK and this sale represents a repeat order for White’s via a wholesale supplier.

Fairtrade cookies – made from ethically-sourced ingredients including chocolate, spices, raisins and sugar – are an increasingly significant product for White’s. Sales of these premium cookies have quadrupled in the last two years.

Most of the cookies are delivered to London’s universities, colleges and coffee shops again via a large wholesale supplier.

Whites’ customers also include a growing number of schools across Yorkshire and the East Midlands, to whom they deliver flapjacks, cookies and shortbreads.

David said:

“Our schools are very important customers to us.

“Their goods have to be baked and delivered daily and they have to meet all Government required low fat, low sugar and low salt content levels.

“We are committed to our schools and have doubled the number we supply across the region in the last two years.”

Whites also delivers bread and confectionery direct to small grocers, sandwich shops and chip shops as well its own four retail outlets in Worsbrough, Darfield, Conisbrough and Barnsley market.

Large wholesale orders are transported to food preparation and sandwich-making companies and niche goods are developed for customers too.

For example, Whites’ bakers are currently developing a mini Eccles cake for a catering company which supplies big name airlines like Emirates.

David said:

“We are responsive to our customers’ needs – whether that means creating bespoke novelty biscuits, following regulated ingredient guidelines for schools or fulfilling bulk orders of cakes.”

White’s Bakery in Charles Street routinely bakes from 6am – 6pm and packs and delivers through the early hours of the morning.

The company used to operate a chain of its own small local shops, but when David took over as MD he steered the business towards more manufacture, when he realised the bakery’s equipment was standing idle most of the day.

Enterprising Barnsley is now supporting White’s with intensive specialist coaching to develop robust sales and marketing techniques and improved IT systems.

Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Shaun Higginbottom said:

“This is an exciting time for White’s Bakery as it puts fresh impetus into its drive to seek new customers and explore new markets.

“White’s is a perfect example of a family firm which understands the value of its heritage but looks to the future too.

“We look forward to seeing the business expand and in the next few years, building on its first 80 years.”

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. 

David and Matthew Wright

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