Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV has acquired St. Pierre Group, 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.
According to a spokesperson for St Pierre Group, the company was bought in its entirety and will continue to operate independently.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gilboy and 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 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 Group, 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.
In a November 2021 exclusive interview Bake magazine, Baker outlined key strategies they are undertaking to build an even stronger business.
“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the St Pierre brand is going from strength-to-strength. We have recently opened our first US office, in Cincinnati and we are agreeing new distribution with retailers across America on our range of products. The brand value surpasses $100mn and US sales are up 10 percent year on year – no mean feat given the uplift in sales caused by Covid-19 in 2020 left many suppliers struggling to maintain heady sales levels,” he said.
“One of the impacts of the pandemic was to speed up the digitalization of our industry. Especially for St Pierre, because we are America’s number one brioche brand, but we were operating from Manchester, UK and unable to travel for almost two years. Necessity is the mother of all invention, and we developed a number of new technologies to ensure that we sustained the growth of our brand and its presence in the US market.
“Throughout 2021, we were steadily building a team on the ground in America. David Wagstaff, our VP in North America now has a team of 10 working across the United States – and all of them were hired remotely. Adapting technology at every level of our business made that possible, but we started using Microsoft Teams at the outbreak of the pandemic and it is now central to our operations. In fact, we have hired a developer in-house to ensure we are maximizing the potential of the program and its offerings.
“Hiring wasn’t the only way in which we adapted processes to digitalize them. We were presenting to retailers from Manchester, so using our in-house digital marketing expertise, we revolutionized the way we deliver sales presentations. Now, if we can’t meet in-person, we get as a close as we can to a face-to-face meeting. Instead of standard slides, we created animated, bespoke presentations, delivered in real-time to really bring the brand to life and keep our retailers engaged.
“We also updated our forecasting systems during the pandemic, allowing us to see, with much greater accuracy than ever before, what stock was in which country, what was committed, what was in transit and where it needed to be. This upgrade to our forecasting systems is key to our three-year strategy, which is all about getting the right products, in the right place at the right time.”