The high profile baked goods firm, which supplies top supermarkets, invested £3M in an Ulma automated packaging line in 2012 to individually wrap mini cupcakes and muffins.
Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk earlier today (April 14), Cooper, who seized the reins of the business after Dutch firm Daelmans Group bought it out of administration last Friday (April 11), said: “From my perspective, one of the pinch points was in fact around that investment.
‘Took their eye off brands’
“They 100% overspent and were 18 months late delivering that. At the same time as they were managing that through the business, which was absolutely the correct thing to do to drive efficiency, they took their eye off investing in brands. If you are not investing, you are going to miss the opportunity to other businesses in the marketplace.”
The two founders and directors of FBB, md Gary Frank and Jon Frank, have now moved on from the firm and their future plans are unknown. Cooper said that change would be the only major difference in staff terms. “The entire management team and workforce are being taken forward into the new business,” he said.
However, he added: “Any other investors who were with the business have also moved on.”
Daelmans Group was now aware that considerable investment needed to be made in new product development and marketing to take the company forward, he said. “Investment in the brand is insufficient. Going forward, it’s going to be the most significant in five years.
‘Good products, good NPD’
“We are working initially to make sure we are strategically placing the brand in the ambient cake fixture. The consumer will pay slightly more on good products and good NPD [new product development].”
A certain amount of cash was also being pumped into FBB, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, “to get the business humming a little better than it currently is”, he added.
Under the terms of the acquisition, administrator BDO Stoy Hayward will be solely responsible for liaising with creditors over outstanding debts. “This process will continue for some weeks going forward,” said Cooper.
That left Cooper and Daelmans general manager Thijmen Peter de With free to steer FBB’s future direction. They have taken on the brand, intellectual property and manufacturing assets of the company.
Creditors had been sympathetic, with many continuing to support the business, claimed Cooper. Major customers were also on board. “I have spoken directly with Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda,” he said.
Throughout the transition, there had been no disruption of supplies to customers, he stressed. “We have not faltered or defaulted on any of our deliveries.”
In addition, there was sufficient stock in the business to maintain supplies at current levels, he said.
De With said FBB offered considerable benefits to the Daelmans Group. “FBB has strong growth in front of them. The acquisition fits particularly in our strategy, where the UK is an important area.”