Why investing in automation has been a recipe for success at Lazy Day Foods

Learn how we helped an enterprising free-from bakery flourish, by going beyond the traditional role of a bank.

Read time: 3 mins      Added: 06/11/2023

Co-founders Dr Sally Beattie and Emer Bustard started Lazy Day Foods in 2006 in North Lanarkshire after being inspired by their personal experience with food allergies and intolerances.

They’ve now come a long way since rolling out free-from biscuit dough by hand at their kitchen tables and selling baked goods at nearby farmers’ markets. Now with a workforce of 120, they supply a range of award-winning free-from and vegan sweet treats to most of the UK’s leading supermarkets.

Much more than a lender

A significant slice of their growth has come from investing in automation. As well as providing finance to help them move to a bespoke manufacturing facility in 2016, Bank of Scotland has helped in other ways, including networking opportunities, strategies for managing working capital, and charting a credible course for them to become more sustainable.

Bigger contracts from retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Co-op have also required them to invest in automation to increase the facility’s output, made possible through an overdraft facility and Asset Finance support.

They now regard Bank of Scotland as a support they can turn to for help at any time, not just when they need finance. This approach has resulted in expert advice on automation from the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) after an introduction was made.

Alan Bedford is Bank of Scotland’s Relationship Director for Lazy Day Foods and wants to encourage more businesses to tap into his team’s manufacturing industry expertise. “Any business can talk to us about their aspirations, and we’ll help them get there. By opening a conversation, we can explore and give guidance on all aspects of growth,” he affirms.

How automation can transform a business

Further investment in production line machinery has enabled Lazy Day Foods to launch new products, such as the UK’s first gluten-free and vegan chocolate cake, and drive efficiencies. As well as increasing production capacity, automation has also been a key contributor to the business moving to a four-day week, which staff have widely welcomed.

Automation has also given the business complete control over its products, by being able to do everything in-house rather than using external suppliers for specific processes. Owning the end-to-end process at their dedicated free-from facility ensures there is no product cross contamination, which has helped Lazy Day Foods build a trusted relationship with their customers.

“It has always been of great importance to us that we were in control of our own dedicated free-from manufacturing site. The free-from consumer places a lot of trust in our products and we can personally relate to this. We have stringent testing and quality processes in place to ensure that our products are enjoyed as safe treats, as well as being delicious!”

Dr Sally Beattie Joint Managing Director, Lazy Day Foods

Balancing innovation with business as usual

Having gone through the automation process from scratch, co-founder Emer Bustard has advice for other business owners looking to do the same. “Start quantifying what you need and researching which forms of automation will give you the best ROI from the outset. It’s important to reach out to others for help and make sure you communicate any changes to your team and keep them informed,” she says.

Lazy Day Foods managed the task of introducing new equipment and processes while maintaining business as usual through detailed planning. Another helpful factor was having three days to carry out changes to their premises when no production was taking place due to their 4-day working week.

Busy times ahead

Lazy Day Foods currently exports to the United Arab Emirates, Europe and North America, and there are plans to move into new overseas markets. This expansion is in-part due to how popular free-from foods have become. They are not only reserved for those with specific allergies, intolerances, or beliefs, Emer says. “Lifestyle-wise, people are choosing to remove gluten and dairy from their diets, not because they have an allergy, but because they feel better for it.”

Having access to Alan and his team for funding and as a sounding board has also put the business in a strong position for future expansion. Turnover has doubled in the last three years and there’s capacity available to scale up significantly within their current premises, meaning this thriving bakery has all the ingredients in place for continued success.

If you have similar goals for your business, learn more about our expertise and banking services for Scotland’s manufacturing sector.

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