Bakers Basco, the leading cooperative set up by Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Frank Roberts & Sons, Hovis and Warburtons to manage and police their bread baskets, has seen a 34% increase in recoveries from unauthorised bakery locations in Northern Ireland, since officially expanding its operations across the Irish Sea at the beginning of 2024.

The findings from its investigate visit since enlisting Worthingtons Law to act on its behalf saw Bakers Basco’s investigations team recover 828 Omega baskets (+34%) and 665 Omega dollies (+9%) from unauthorised bakers using the equipment without permission, a significant increase from October 2023.

Following multiple visits to locations where equipment misuse was suspected, a number of well-known bakers across Northern Ireland have been charged for using Allied Bakeries and Hovis equipment, as well as the industry standard Omega bread basket. Popular retailers receiving equipment from these bakers have been issued warnings, while conversations continue to take place with additional bakeries across the region, including Belfast, Antrim, Londonderry, Cookstown, and Bangor.

Each case is handled by a dedicated Bakers Basco investigations team who, since the beginning of the year, has been actively monitoring the movements of misplaced equipment in Northern Ireland, through a range of GPS tracking technology and satellite imagery techniques, that support solid investigative work to find and reclaim its equipment and that of its members.

Bakers Basco equipment is designed for the sole purpose of transporting bread, but too often it is taken unlawfully and used by companies without permission, causing massive disruption to the supply chain and the day-to-day running of operations. Usually, when Bakers Basco becomes aware that its equipment is being used without permission, a simple request to return the items is enough. However, in cases where companies hold on to Bakers Basco’s property after being asked to return it, or where people repeatedly misuse its equipment, it will take legal action.

“Bakers Basco was set up to allow the members of our scheme to transport bread safely, cost-effectively and in an environmentally-friendly way. When people take our baskets and use them for their own products without permission and without paying for them, it has a knock-on effect on the bakers that pay to license them,” explains Stacey Brown, investigations manager for the region, “The fact that we now see so many examples of equipment being taken and used by bakeries in Northern Ireland without permission shows that we need to further step up our efforts here to educate these bakers on the very real impact this is having not just for our industry but the environment – and that’s something we’re fully committed to tackling.”

Originally published Grocery Trader | May 2024