Celiac.com 12/10/2009 - A UK mother-turned-entrepreneur is about to notch the one-million loaf sales mark for the gluten-free bread she invented to help her sons’ food allergies. Launched by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne in April, Genius bread originally made its debut exclusively at British supermarket giant Tesco, which had just debuted its "Free From" line of products.
Genius has expanded to other retailers, including Asda and Waitrose, and will make its way into Sainsbury’s in the new year. Also available in Ireland, Genius is eyeing plans to launch in a number of overseas markets. The bread has "just taken off,” she said.
Bruce-Gardyne, who previously worked at top London restaurant Bibendum and has written recipe books for food allergy sufferers, began developing her gluten-free bread three years ago, after finding existing products to be lacking in quality. “They were packed with stabilizers and preservatives,” she said.
Working from her home kitchen in Edinburgh, Bruce-Gardyne spent several hours a day crafting her recipe for bread that looked and tasted like regular, commercial gluten-containing bread. Her effort was not without its challenges. She was "baking constantly," she says, and “I broke my oven twice because of overuse,” she said.
She teamed up with United Central Bakeries, a specialty industrial baking company, at an early stage of development, and the company now bakes all the bread sold under the Genius brand. She also has the good fortune to have support from Sir Bill Gammell, the boss of Cairn Energy, who suffers from gluten intolerance. Their children attend the same school, and the two met after Sir Bill sampled the former chef’s bread. He has become keen to help commercialize it.
To date, the business has attracted investment of between $1.6 million and $3.3m and sales are running at about $4 million. Genius sells an average 45,000 loaves a week at about $4 each. Bruce-Gardyne is optimistic about the company's future. Genius is looking to diversify: “We have 18 new products coming out including pre-sliced bread, rolls and ciabatta” said Bruce-Gardyne. She is also working on a gluten-free croissant. “Nothing will be launched unless it tastes as good or better than the mainstream alternative."
Will Genius bread make it to America? Stay tuned…
More: Times Online