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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Planners weigh up Cotswold millers' bid

With building work for a factory revamp held back by the Pandemic, a celebrated flour mill in Gloucestershire said to have kickstarted a renaissance in British baking is hoping planners will renew its bid for a key element in ongoing modernisation.

Tetbury-headquartered Shipton Mill has been a mill site since the Domesday Book, while the company, owned by ethical entrepreneur John Lister, also runs production from the Severn Industrial Park in Frampton on Severn. 

Across its sites, Shipton employs more than 80 staff and has been milling a range of additive-free, organic flours, since 1979.

In 2014, the business was identified by the Guardian newspaper for its significant effect on an emerging revolution in artisan baking: 10 out of 17 prominent successful bakers in the UK said they sourced their flour from this source, with one calling it "the Prada or Gucci of flours". Flours from the mill have added a prominent local customer to their sales list: their products are sold with the kudos of a Royal warrant.

The company's product range includes cake and bread flours, as well as organic and stonegound, and sales are both wholesale and retail with online purchase options. Courses in baking are also run from Shipton's Frampton base, which also regularly opens on Saturdays for guided visits.

In a bid for the latest stage of work at the Frampton factory, which was formerly used by Cadbury's for chocolate production, Cheltenham-based agents The Stanley Partnership told planners: "The previous application was granted on May 15th 2019 with an expiration of three years. The deadline has primarily lapsed because the scheduled work was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The work was programmed to be completed in sequence with other work at the Mill."

He added: "All of this work has to be integrated and coordinated whilst the busy Mill remains active. There may have been time given the duration of the Pandemic but the build requires specialist concrete and other projects also had to take priority."

Spokeswoman Kaouther Shilvock told Punchline-Gloucester.com: "The magic that has given us success is in the way that we employ a lot of bakers to test flour constantly for its properties. That's what has made us so well known with artisan bakers across the country."

The ongoing development at Frampton, she added, will eventually see a café with an onsite bakery: "We want to create a regenerative area here which will resonate with John's initiative to plant 750,000 trees in Scotland; our philosophy is to bring communities together, and we work hard to make sure we are active members of the community."

Keeping things simple, she added, was key: "Our recipe in business is all about flour, water, yeast and a lot of love."

A date on a decision by Stroud District Council is yet to be known.

● Shipton Mill's bid comes as a recent report from Bakerpedia suggests that artisan bread continues to gain popularity "with the increasing health-based claims over conventional bread." In addition, "clean label, authenticity, and sensorial creativity" are boosting this trend even further. In parallel with the trend for more artisan bread, the popularity of breadmaking machines appears to be being dented as homeowners sideline the gadget, which saw huge popularity in the 1990s. Lakeland's latest digest of annual sales shows air fryers are supplanting the gadget, with sales up 1,175% on last year. Air fryers were already on a sharp rise, said the retailer, as households continue to seek energy-saving technology. And despite a surge for demand during the Pandemic, Lakeland added that breadmaking machine sales have now seen a 37% annual tumble.

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