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Empowering food manufacturers to thrive amidst economic challenges

The food manufacturing sector in the UK has faced significant challenges in recent years, with rising costs, increased competition, and changing consumer preferences. However, by taking proactive steps, many can protect themselves from potential hardships. This article will explore the difficulties faced by the sector and provide practical strategies for business owners to safeguard their future. I will also examine the cautionary example of Jacksons the Bakers – a business which recently went into administration before being saved, highlighting the importance of acting before problems escalate.

The food manufacturing sector in the UK has experienced a range of difficulties, including:

Rising Costs: Businesses in the sector have grappled with escalating costs of ingredients, energy, and wages, putting pressure on profit margins. Staying on top of cost management is crucial to maintain financial stability.

Increased Competition: The marketplace has become more competitive. The bakery industry is a good example as there has been a proliferation of artisanal bakeries, supermarket chains, and online retailers. Bakery businesses must differentiate themselves and continuously innovate to retain customers.

Changing Consumer Preferences: Consumers' dietary preferences and demands have evolved, with a growing interest in healthier options, allergen-free products, and sustainable practices. Adapting to these preferences is essential for long-term success.

To protect themselves from potential challenges and avoid significant problems, business owners should consider the following proactive measures:

Financial Planning and Risk Management: Developing a comprehensive financial plan, including regular cash flow projections and contingency plans, enables business owners to identify potential risks and take pre-emptive action. Seek advice from financial experts to ensure sound financial management.

Innovation and Product Development: Stay ahead of the competition by continuously innovating and diversifying product offerings. Conduct market research, gather customer feedback, and introduce new products that align with changing consumer preferences.

Strong Supplier Relationships: Maintain strong relationships with suppliers to secure favourable terms and ensure a reliable supply chain. Explore options for bulk purchasing, negotiate pricing, and establish backup suppliers to mitigate potential disruptions.

Marketing and Customer Engagement: Invest in effective marketing strategies to raise brand awareness and engage with customers. Utilise social media platforms, loyalty programs, and personalized customer experiences to build a loyal customer base.

Derbyshire-based family business, Jacksons the Bakers, serves as a reminder of what can happen in the current climate. This was a recent deal that I worked on and although the business was saved and jobs were preserved through administration and a subsequent prepack deal, it highlights the potential severity of problems if proactive measures are not taken at the first sign of difficulty. By recognising the challenges early on and seeking professional advice, bakery businesses can prevent the need for administration and protect their future.

The food manufacturing sector in the UK has faced numerous challenges in recent years, but by taking proactive measures, they can safeguard their future. Financial planning, innovation, strong supplier relationships, and effective customer engagement are essential components of a proactive approach. By learning from cautionary examples like Jacksons the Bakers, food producers can take action to avoid significant problems and navigate the ever-evolving landscape successfully.

How we can help

Irwin Mitchell's Restructuring and Insolvency team provides comprehensive legal support to a wide range of clients, including Insolvency Practitioners, lenders, companies, and directors. With expertise in various areas such as administrations, receiverships, voluntary arrangements, liquidation advice, property receiverships, creditor assistance, individual arrangements, and bankruptcy cases, the team offers extensive knowledge and guidance in handling all aspects of insolvency.