Mum's home-made gluten-free bread set to rake in £20 million

IT WAS created simply to help her son beat an allergic reaction to normal bread.

• Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne was driven to create Genius after son Robin proved allergic to normal bread. Picture: Complimentary

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne spent almost three painstaking years perfecting her gluten-free recipe, refusing to give up in the quest to get a traditional taste from her bread.

But less than 12 months after she started selling her home-made loaf, she has revealed that it is set to rake in more than 20 million by the end of 2010.

An exclusive deal to provide Starbucks with gluten-free sandwiches in hundreds of outlets across the UK has been struck just a few months after most of the nation's major supermarkets agreed to take her "Genius" bread.

Now the Edinburgh-based entrepreneur has her sights on trying to persuade hotels, restaurants, schools and even the health service to help people with food allergies or intolerances.

She is also developing a host of new products, including rolls, croissants, cakes, sauces and ready meals in a major expansion.

Ms Bruce-Gardyne, a former chef and food writer from Trinity, in north Edinburgh, started trying to create a gluten-free bread at home when son Robin, then three, began displaying signs that he was allergic to normal bread.

By last April, she had a deal with Tesco and Sainsburys. ASDA and Waitrose followed. With a bakery in West Lothian making the bread, more than 1.5 million loaves were sold in the first eight months and 2,000 supermarkets now stock Genius.

Ms Bruce-Gardyne has refused to put a value on the new deal with Starbucks but it is thought to be playing a major part in her 20m projections for 2010 – the coffee shop operator has 600 stores across the UK.

She told The Scotsman: "It's absolutely brilliant to get the tie-up with Starbucks. It's a very big deal as this is the first takeaway sandwich product we'll have worked on. It's going to be the only gluten-free sandwich you can get in Starbucks, which will make a big difference for people who have a gluten allergy.

"I'm certainly hoping to get our products into a lot of independent shops and outlets, as well as the supermarkets like Morrisons that aren't selling Genius yet."

Ms Bruce-Gardyne, a 38-year-mother of three, has had her business backed by oil tycoon Sir Bill Gammell, chief executive of Cairn Energy, whose son goes to the same school as Robin.

Her company now employs 11 staff in its Edinburgh office, where Ms Bruce-Gardyne has installed a kitchen to develop new products. Around 15 per cent of people in the UK are thought to have an intolerance to gluten.

She added: "I had to teach myself how to cook without dairy and gluten, nuts, soya and eggs. It took me a year just to come up with a gluten-free loaf that would work. It was all trial and error, using my family as tasters. Robin was chief taster.

"You won't believe how complicated a loaf is when you take away wheat flour."

A spokesman for Starbucks said: "We take the health and wellbeing of our customers seriously and we're committed to offering our customers choice, including healthier options."

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