Central Europe proves focus of Lantmännen expansion plans

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Europe, Hungary, Central europe

Frozen food supplier Lantmännen Unibake has sought to strengthen its position in Central Europe with the acquisition of a Hungarian bakery from the milling group Elsö Pesti.

Company spokesperson Jesper Skovlund told BakeryandSnacks.com that the acquisition was a strategic buy with Hungary chosen for its important geographical position.

CEO Bent Pultz Larsen added that the supplier’s latest acquisition was “a very important step in expansion in the Central European region”.

“We want to follow our international customers into the Central and Eastern European market and with production in Russia, Poland and now Hungary we have the best possible setup for matching our customers’ needs and demands for the future,”​ he said.

The Unibake chief also pointed to the growth potential in the Hungarian market, highlighting “new and unexploited sales channels”.

According to Larsen, the new bakery will serve as an ideal production platform, giving direct access to a well-established sales and distribution network throughout the region.

Skovlund also revealed plans to modernise the bakery as the company looks to target the food service market.

Future Investments: UK orientated

While Skovlund was not forthcoming about future acquisitions in Central or Eastern Europe, he said, like all firms, Unibake would be continually eyeing up potential buys.

He did however disclose company plans to invest heavily in the British market, including increasing production capacity through the construction of a new bakery North of London – expected to be in full operation by mid-2011. Through a series of acquisitions, the UK has become Unibake’s biggest market.

Rapid Growth

The Danish based firm, present in 11 countries, has overseen something of a transformation in the past two years, with no fewer than five major investments since 2008.

In February 2008, Unibake expanded its market share in the Baltics and Russsia with the takeover of Finnish bakery, Baco Oy and the following month, acquired artisan bakery firm Euro-Bake.

The purchase of Eurobuns saw production capability for the first time in the UK and was soon followed by establishing a majority shareholding in UK pastry and specialist bread supplier, Bakehouse.

Through the Hungarian acquisition, the company now has 86 bakery lines in 26 bakeries as it looks to build upon build an annual turnover of €727m.

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