One of the UK’s biggest pie makers has announced plans to invest £5 million ramping up production at its Leicestershire bakery.
Pukka PIes revealed the investment as new figures showed annual sales rose from almost 7 per cent to £52.7 million in the year to last May.
Pre-tax profits for the last financial year were up almost £1 million to £3.6 million.
The business, based in the village of Syston, just north of Leicester, said the investment and ongoing growth would cement its position as “the nation’s favorite hot pie brand”.
Pukka’s chief executive Deborah Ewan - a 2019 LeicestershireLive Business Executive of the Year - said: “The last year has marked a significant step-change for the business, including the launch of a successful and bold new marketing and TV campaign, as well as investment in a new look and more environmentally friendly packaging.
“So, it is very exciting to reinforce our growth and development with the announcement of further investment in our bakery.”
Pukka was founded by husband and wife Trevor and Valerie Storer more than 55 years ago, selling their signature steak and kidney pie to pubs, fish and chip shops, and locals looking for a quick meal idea.
Still owned by the Storer family, it has since grown into a national brand, producing a range featuring everything from steak & ale, to chicken & mushroom and minced beef & onion.
It employs around 360 people in Leicestershire, and bakes around 180,000 pies, sausage rolls and pastries every day.
It supplies more than 35 million pies a year to fish and chip shops and football groups – including Leicester City’s King Power Stadium.
And there has been an ongoing campaign to build on the 25 million-plus pies which go into the nation’s shops and supermarkets each year.
The new investment will help reinforce Pukka’s position as a key employer in the region.
Ms Ewan said: “Our TV advert, which is currently getting its second national airing following its launch in September last year, features everyday folk including employees and local fish and chip shop Rothley Fisheries in Leicestershire, as well as the nation’s love affair with Pukka pies to really shine a spotlight on the local area.
“People have always been at the core of the family-owned business, so our campaign doesn’t just focus on the real people who sell and enjoy Pukka pies, but the people who make and bake them in Leicestershire too.”
She said Pukka had introduced new fully recyclable plastic-free packaging across its chilled supermarket range, made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified cardboard.
She said removing the small plastic window on the top would save 11.4 tonnes of plastic each year.
Recent accolades have included Pukka’s cheese, leek and potato pie picking up the award for best new vegan/vegetarian product in The Grocer Magazine’s prestigious Product of the Year Awards.
Pukka’s new TV advert ‘The People’s Pie’ was named Top Campaign by The Grocer Magazine.
Ms Ewan said: “We introduced some big changes last year, and the good news is that they have paid off with an increase in demand for our pies.
“But we’re not resting on our laurels. Our ambition is to put more pies on more plates and in order to do that we need to increase production in the bakery.
“That means a significant investment in upgrading machinery to ensure we are enhancing the capability and capacity of the bakery.
“We’ve been making and baking pies for over 55 years and are continuously looking for ways to innovate and improve our business to make sure we are giving the people of Britain what they want.
“We are planning more innovation for 2020 and are confident that Pukka will continue to grow for many years to come.”
The new accounts show Pukka donated more than 30,000 pies to charity last year.