Manufacturing

Tasty deal as bakery innovation fund invests six-figure sum in expanding biscotti business

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: February 19, 2021 | Updated: 20th February 2021

Paul Rostand is positively buzzing with excitement – and with good reason.

“It’s incredible. Absolutely incredible,” he says.

The reason for his joy?

His business producing a range of sweet and savoury biscotti has secured financial backing from the UK’s largest bakery brand, Warburtons.

The 145-year-old company, now in its fifth generation of family ownership, is providing a six-figure funding package.

It’s the maiden investment of Warburtons’ Batch Ventures bakery innovation fund after the Bolton-based giant teamed up with Mission Ventures, co-founded by food entrepreneurs Nigel Parrott, John Stapleton and Paddy Willis.

The fund will support innovative start-ups and SMEs in the bakery category.

The fact that Paul’s business – which goes under the names of The Artful Baker and the Great British Biscotti Co – is the first chosen to benefit from the fund has left a particularly sweet taste.

He said: “You have an idea and then you wonder whether it’s going to take off.

“To get news like this is just a fantastic endorsement.

“I love food manufacturing and I love what I do.

“The feedback we received from Warburtons was just amazing.

“They love the product, the innovation and the flavours.

“It’s just so exciting.”

It was in June 2016 that Paul, pictured left, Founder and CEO and then part of a three-strong team, started the Great British Biscotti Co.

Originally launched in the New Forest, the business quickly outgrew its premises, culminating in a move to its current 4,000 sq ft site on Christchurch’s Somerford Business Park within a year.

Biscuit legend suggests that the humble biscotti began life as the Roman legionnaire’s ‘biccie of choice’.

It was considered the perfect snacking treat with the craggy, double-baked nature of the biscotti making it practically impervious to crumbling.

But, said Paul, very little had changed in the last 2,000 years with Italy, the home of the biscotti, still producing the same almond biscuit consumed by generation after generation.

“I felt we could do so much better with a range of flavours and textures as well as sweet and savoury.

“I’m not a fan of dunking so I wanted to have a softer texture,” said Paul, 57.

The Great British Biscotti Co started with six flavours – three sweet and three savoury – and proved an instant hit, winning award after award.

Today there are a total of 25 with flavours ranging from Cheddar & Fennel, Red Onion Marmalade & Walnut, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Olives to Sour Cherry & Double Chocolate, Chunky Belgian Choc, Chocolate Orange and, of course, the original Simply Almond.

Savoury now outsells sweet with the split around 60/40.

All are baked in Christchurch – Paul is especially proud of his ‘Hand Crafted in Dorset’ logo – by a team now numbering 15.

Last year they produced 5.5 million biscotti biscuits.

The products are sold under the Great British Biscotti Co label in 500 delis and farm shops nationwide and under The Artful Baker brand in Asda and through Ocado and Amazon.

The Great British Biscotti Co also exports to Norway, Germany, the US/Canada and is about to launch into the Middle East.

Paul said the six-figure sum from the Batch Ventures bakery innovation fund will be invested in equipment, marketing and product development.

An immediate priority was a fifth oven.

“In many ways it’s a unique product and the barriers to entry are quite high.

“We really are the only ones of our kind doing this and I think the potential for future growth is huge,” he said.

Paul’s views are shared by Jonathan Warburton, pictured left, Chairman of Warburtons, who told The Grocer magazine that he was impressed by the Dorset company’s product quality and level of innovation.

He added: “We see a great opportunity to support their growth plans.”

And the final twist in this tasty tale?

The Great British Biscotti Co is now exporting biscotti back to Italy!

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