Warburtons is a British baking firm founded by Thomas Warburton in 1876 and based in Bolton, a town formerly in Lancashire, England, and is now in Greater Manchester. For much of its history Warburtons only had bakeries in Lancashire and it remains a family-owned company. As of 2018, Warburtons has 12 bakeries, 14 depots, and 4,500 employees across the UK.[2]

Warburtons Ltd
Founded1876; 145 years ago (1876)
FounderTom Warburton
HeadquartersBolton, Greater Manchester
Key people
Jonathan Warburton
ProductsBread and other bakery goods
Revenue£574.4 million
  • Jonathan Warburton
  • Brett Warburton
  • Ross Warburton
Number of employees
Over 4,500[1]
ParentWarburtons 1876 Ltd

The company embarked on a large expansion programme in the late 1990s which continued in the 2000s and it has grown across the United Kingdom after being relatively unheard of outside the North West.[3] By 2010 it had a 24% share of the UK bread market compared with 2% when it was based solely in Bolton.[4] Warburtons is the most popular bread in Lancashire with a 45% market share compared with a 15% share in London.[5]

The Warburtons brand is the most popular bread in the United Kingdom, ahead of rivals Kingsmill and Hovis, a position it has held since 2008.[6] Overall, Warburtons products are the second-best selling food and drink brand in the UK after Coca-Cola[4] and ahead of famous British brands such as Cadbury's, Barr's, and Walker's.[7]

Chairman Jonathan Warburton is a supporter of Brexit, stating it was "a very good thing to have happened", and describing the European Union as a "rotting corpse".[8]


Founding yearsEdit

Ellen and Thomas Warburton bought a small grocery shop in Bolton in 1876. The business grew and Thomas' nephew Henry joined the business when he was 16 and became a skilled baker by the age of 25. New technology drove the business forward and Henry continued to expand the business. The location of the bakery was moved four times in 25 years finishing with the opening of Back o'th' Bank Bakery opened by Rachael Warburton in July 1915. Henry became involved in local affairs within the community and stood as a Liberal candidate. He became mayor of Bolton. Henry Warburton died in 1936.

Warburtons grew with the purchase of several smaller companies in North West England.


Production of bread was based in Bolton for much of the company's history. However, bread made in Bolton would have lost its freshness by the time it was transported to locations in Southern England. With demand increasing from national retailers such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's,[9] in the late 1990s the company embarked on an expansion programme and opened new plants at Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, Bellshill and Wednesbury. Warburtons moved into Scotland in 1996 and by 2003 the company had a 32% share of the Scottish bread market, just seven years after entering the Scottish market.[10]

National brandEdit

In October 2003, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh opened Warburtons' eleventh bakery in Enfield, North London. In 2004, Warburtons increased production in Scotland with the completion of Bellshill, phase two. Rathbones Bakeries, based in Walsall, went into administration in April 2005, and Warburtons bought a bakery at Stockton-on-Tees just off the A66 near Preston-on-Tees in January 2005, and another bakery at Rogerstone near the A467 at Newport in November 2005. A £60m 12-acre (49,000 m2) super bakery in Normanton, West Yorkshire opened in March 2006, the largest bakery in Europe. Other bakeries outside of the Lancashire area are in Newburn for Newcastle upon Tyne next to the A6085 and River Tyne.

In 2010, the company announced the closure of its Newport facility, but retained a distribution depot at Port Talbot to continue service to the South Wales market. Production was transferred to a new, state of the art, multimillion-pound plant in Bristol. The lease on the Newport plant was ceded to Brace's Bakery.[11]

In 2013, the Daily Mirror named Warburtons as Britain's best loved shopping brand ahead of leading everyday labels Coca-Cola, Heinz, and Cadbury.[12]

In early 2015, Warburtons announced the use of Sylvester Stallone in its marketing campaign, with Stallone re-enacting many major parts he has played over the years in the advert.[13] Another advert involves The Muppets singing about the new brand of giant crumpets, in a style almost identical to the opening theme of The Muppet Show, whilst the advert with Peter Kay has him acting out with typical Kay humour, playing on the Bolton connection. A new ad campaign features Robert De Niro and bagels.[14]


Warburtons make five categories of products: Bread, Rolls, Bakery Snacks (including crumpets and potato cakes), Gluten Free and Weight Watchers.

Warburtons' staple products include the orange-wrappered Toastie loaf, the blue-wrappered Medium loaf and the green-wrappered Thickest loaf, all of which are wrapped in wax paper.


  1. ^ "Warburtons announces expansion into Kent". 21 April 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2011. It employs over 4,500 people and produces over 14 million bakery products every week.
  2. ^ Grant, Jeremy. "CEO succession planning in a family business". strategy+business. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ "A family firm that blows its own trumpet". BBC. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b Teather, Daniel (8 April 2010). "Family values hold key to the rise and rise of Warburtons". Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Warburtons launches battle of the bakers with £22m campaign". The Times. 6 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Coke Still Fizzing As Smoothies Rocket". Sky News. 3 March 2008. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  7. ^ Wallop, Harry (22 February 2007). "Warburtons now second biggest UK brand". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  8. ^ Singh, Sonoo (7 November 2016). "Ties that bind: How business dynasties create brand opportunities". Campaign. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  9. ^ Barry, Chris (6 December 2002). "Warburtons in £30m south east expansion". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Bakery toasts expansion plan". BBC News. 27 October 2003. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Brace's Confirms Purchase of Warburtons' Site At Rogerstone, Newport". Brace's Bakery. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  12. ^ Sayid, Ruki (2 May 2013). "Warburtons named Britain's best loved shopping brand ahead of Coca-Cola, Heinz and Cadbury". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  13. ^ Emma Flanagan (13 April 2015). "Watch Sylvester Stallone star in new Warburtons advert 'The Deliverers' filmed in Bolton". men.
  14. ^ Jardine, Alexandra (14 May 2019). "Robert de Niro plays a mafioso bagel boss in this U.K. spot for Warburtons". adage.com. Retrieved 13 April 2020.

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