Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV has acquired St. Pierre Groupe, a United Kingdom-based baker of premium brioche-style products with a growing presence in the United States. The transaction was disclosed in Bimbo’s third-quarter financial results report.
St. Pierre’s products include brioche buns, brioche bagels and brioche sub rolls. Specialty products include chocolate chip brioche loaf, croissants, chocolate and hazelnut rolled crepe, brioche waffles and brioche cinnamon twist. The company said its business was inspired by the Parisian cafe culture with “a passion for quality and a love of good brioche, pastries, crepes and waffles.”
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and top Bimbo executives shared little further information about the company or the acquisition in an Oct. 27 conference call with investment analysts, other than to say the transaction closed in the final days of the third quarter (ended Sept. 30). Speculation has swirled about a potential sale of St. Pierre since the summer. BusinessLive, a media brand of Reach PLC in the United Kingdom, said in July the group was “weighing up a £200m full or partial sale” and had engaged Harris Williams, an investment banking business based in Richmond, Va., to review strategic options.
Based in Manchester, England, St. Pierre Groupe sells its products under the St. Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood brands.
A wide range of baked foods are sold under the St. Pierre brand, including buns, sliced bread, crepes and croissants. The products are known for their soft texture and “gentle sweet taste,” the company said.
A UK brand, Baker Street’s product lineup includes sliced bread, buns, and soft rolls as well as specialty products such as rye bread and stollen.
Under the Paul Hollywood brand, the company sells par-baked rolls. The brand is named for Paul Hollywood, an English celebrity chef who has been a judge on the television show “The Great British Bake Off” since 2010.
St. Pierre Group was established in 1986 as Carrs Foods, a producer of private label baked foods that also sold products under the St. Pierre brand. For a time beginning in 1992, Carrs became a subsidiary of Harry’s, a family-owned baking business in France. The company’s current chairman Jeremy Gilboy joined Carrs Foods in 1997 as finance and operations manager. Seven years later Paul Baker joined the company as technical director.
Mr. Gilboy and Mr. Baker acquired the business in 2004 in a management buyout and transformed the company from a supplier of private label cakes into a baker of premium branded products.
The company began exporting its products from the United Kingdom in 2011, first to Australia. It exited that market three years later, but Mr. Baker started to explore opportunities in the United States beginning in 2012. The company launched in the US market in 2014, offering 10 products in the Midwest. Carrs expanded up and down the East Coast in 2016 and became a national brand in 2017.
According to the St. Pierre Groupe, Carrs enjoyed rapid growth during this period, with annual sales climbing to £20 million in 2012 to £69 million in 2018. In 2020, the company became the largest brioche brand in the United States.
A year later, the company changed its business name to St. Pierre Groupe and received an £8 million capital investment from Lloyds Bank Business Growth Fund (BGF). The company’s sales topped £100 million globally in 2021, St. Pierre said.
The company’s US sales at retail nearly quadrupled between 2018 and 2021 to $130 million from $34 million. It opened its first US office in 2021 in Cincinnati.
St. Pierre said it has experienced shortages of sunflower oil because of the conflict in Ukraine, a major source for the product. St. Pierre said in certain cases alternative ingredients are being used as a substitute.
Grupo Bimbo has acquired numerous specialty baking businesses in recent years operating in the United States. In January 2020, Bimbo purchased the Lender’s Bagels business from Conagra Brands, Inc. In July 2021, the company acquired Emmy’s Organics, a maker of ultra-premium organic cookies.