Woodhead originally went into administration on March 29, with 30 of its 310 staff made redundant; the company has a £9m turnover and a factory in Scarborough; it also supplies 30 bakery shops.
Sheffield-based administrator The P&A Partnership secured the sale on Saturday, which will involve 280 new jobs being transferred to new owners Bakery Products (part of Haldane Retail Group) and Scarborough-based bakers Coopland & Sons.
The business has continued to trade since entering administration: Bakery Products has bought the factory and 11 shops, while Coopland & Sons has bought 18 shops in a separate deal. One shop in Redcar has closed.
Interest despite gloom
Joint administrator Christopher White said: “We were pleased with the level of interest generated … and are proud to have achieved successful sales of the factory and 29 shops as going concerns.
“Our thanks go to all the employees at Woodhead. It’s a credit to them that they carried on working with the administrators throughout these challenging last few weeks.”
White said that, despite gloom in the retail sector – he previously blamed inflation, high wheat costs and tough high street trading for Woodhead’s demise – the sales showed that many businesses still saw opportunities to expand products and markets.
Spiralling sector costs
Woodhead’s woes reflect difficulties for firms active in the UK’s £4.4bn bakery industry (2010 estimate based on Office of National Statistics figures) with input costs “spiralling out of control”, despite the UK’s virtual self-sufficiency in wheat.
Research firm Key Note wrote in a recent 2011 report on the sector: “Russia’s recent export ban on wheat has forced other countries to look elsewhere for wheat crops, with the UK being a prime location to pick up such trade.
High energy prices had also negatively impacted on producers’ margins in recent months, Key Note said, “as there are only so many costs that manufacturers can feasibly absorb before they must be passed on to the consumer”.