Genius Foods seals Australian gluten-free bread deal

A selection of Genius breads. Picture: Jon Savage
A selection of Genius breads. Picture: Jon Savage
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GENIUS Foods, the Edinburgh-based gluten-free baker, has signed a deal to break into the Australian market, as the firm targets sales of £50 million.

Melbourne-based Gourmet Gluten Free Bakery (GGFB) will distribute ten products from the Scottish firm’s range of breads, rolls and pastries across the Coles supermarket chain.

Shops in the Netherlands, North America and Spain are already stocking Genius Food’s products, which were invented by founder Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne after her son was diagnosed as gluten intolerant.

Genius chief executive Roz Cuschieri said: “We wanted to bring our food to Australian consumers because demand for great-tasting gluten-free food is rising, as are the numbers of people being diagnosed with coeliac disease and those consumers following a gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice.

“We see a lot of potential within Australia’s ‘free-from’ category and we have successfully driven rapid category growth in the UK and are optimistic about doing the same in Australia.”

Dean Kruger, co-founder and director at GGFB, launched a range of savoury and sweet gluten-free pies in 2011 under the “Bellyhoo” brand.

Kruger, a former category manager at Coles, said: “When we were looking to extend our existing Bellyhoo range, we wanted to build a gluten-free brand that was best in class.

“When we met the team behind Genius, we immediately knew it was the obvious choice to expand our offering.

“The GGFB team worked really hard to bring Genius to Australia and its arrival is a transformational step for the gluten-free market. We’re excited to have the opportunity to launch the Genius range in Australia.”

In March, Genius said it would become “one of the largest food groups in Scotland” after unveiling a “transformational” takeover of Finsbury’s Free From.

Under the £21m deal, Genius bought the Livwell bakery in Hull and United Central Bakeries (UCB) in Bathgate, where the firm’s breads have been produced under contract, from Aim-quoted Finsbury, which in turn had taken over Hamilton-based Lightbody Cakes in 2007.

To fulfil the Australian contract, the Scottish manufacturer will bake croissants, loaves, pain au chocolate, pizza bases and rolls in the UK, before freezing them and then shipping the products “down under”.

Genius’ deal with Finsbury is expected to boost its turnover from £20m last year to £50m this year. The fast-growing company was founded in 2009 and already supplies all of the UK’s main supermarket chains.

The company now controls a 47.5 per cent share of the “free from” bread category in the UK.

Sir Bill Gammell, the founder of oil explorer Cairn Energy, joined Genius last year as its chairman, while ex-Scottish & Newcastle chief executive John Dunsmore serves as a non-executive director.

Gammel and his wife, Janice, together own a 23.75 per cent stake in Genius, while Dunsmore’s holding stands at nearly 6 per cent. Other Cairn Energy directors also own stakes in the food company.