‘Something other than sliced bread’: Signature Flatbreads eyes gluten-free after international expansion on convenience trend

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Signature Flatbreads has become a multimillion dollar concern through flatbreads like tortillas. Pic:©iStock/Julia Sudnitskaya
Signature Flatbreads has become a multimillion dollar concern through flatbreads like tortillas. Pic:©iStock/Julia Sudnitskaya

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UK firm Signature Flatbreads is considering gluten-free NPD after evolving into a multinational $100m enterprise.

Today’s multinational concern began when Samir Eid opened a small biscuit bakery in Ghana more than 30 years ago.

Signature Flatbreads is now part owned by Aryzta; distributes products to more than 50 countries; and has annual revenues of £81m ($100m) .

Kateb Benchaoui of Signature Flatbreads told BakeryandSnacks at the trade fair ife 2017, running from March 19-22 at ExCel in London, almost 90% of UK’s major retailers today stock the company’s branded or private label range of flatbreads.

“People are looking for something other than sliced bread. Tortillas, for example, are seeing a huge rise in popularity,”​ he said.

“Our range of flatbreads are seen as a sandwich alternative that’s a convenient snack for the consumer who wants to eat on-the-go,” ​he said,

Going gluten-free?

Benchaoui told us that he’s received numerous enquiries about going the gluten-free route.

“We’ve recently exhibited at Gulfood in the UAE, Foodex in Japan, and now here at ife in London. Numerous visitors have been asking for gluten-free products,”​ he said.

“It’s definitely something we will be looking into soon.”

According to Benchaoui, the family-managed firm is planning to launch several extensions to its Deli Kitchen range in May, including a new variant to the Flat Bun that was released just a little more than a year ago. 

“This product has done exceeding well, so it makes sense to capitalize on that,”​ said Benchaoui.

The pathway to success

In 1984, Samir Eid moved to the UK and formed Honeytop Speciality Foods in Hackney, London. It claimed to be the first company to market tortilla wraps and naan bread commercially in the UK.

Within a decade, it was producing its Long Life Naans in MAP packaging under private label for several leading brands and retailers, including Sharwoods, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, among others. QSRs like MacDonald’s followed, with pancakes and flatbreads and the company grew exponentially.

Three generations later, Signature Flatbreads is now headquartered in Dunstable, UK, and has two manufacturing facilities, one in the UK and another in Nashik, just outside Mumbai in India.

In 2009, Signature Flatbreads sold 50% of both the UK and Indian business to Aryzta, which, according to Benchaoui, is the world’s third largest bakery. However, the Eid family still retains full management of the company.

This, and the popularity of the products among the Indian community, gave Signature Flatbreads the impetus to realize an estimated turnover of £10m in sales within five years.

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