Derbyshire bakery produces two new hot cross bun flavours for M&S as business increases by 20 percent

A Derbyshire bakery has produced two new flavours of hot cross buns this year to satisfy customers’ appetites for the Easter favourite.

Dronfield based Gunstones Bakery has added the Golden Blond Chocolate and Salted Caramel Hot Cross Bun and Extremely Cheesy Hot Cross Bun to the range it produces for retail giant M&S which is its main customer.

Richard Broadley, general manager, said: “We supply 12 million hot cross buns for the Easter season. We even supply the hot cross buns in the M&S cafes. We have been making them and supplying M&S since the mid Seventies."

Esther Ingle, commercial controller at the bakery, said: “Production of hot cross buns is a predominant part of our business. The market’s in growth –business is up 20 percent on last year.

Extremely Cheesy Hot Cross Buns are a new addition to the M&S range this year.

"Hot cross buns are for everyone. There is a market for people who don't like the traditional fruited flavour, the spice or vine fruits, or for a younger customer looking for something more adventurous. There is more interest in different flavours; cheese and Marmite has caught people’s eye.

"People are finding different things to do with hot cross buns, whether it be making a dessert or using a cheese one to put a breakfast sandwich in.

Richard said: “Hot cross buns is a very interesting production and incredibly seasonal so that gives the factory lots of challenges and lots of opportunity. We start in October and it’s meticulously planned out day by day right through to Easter.”

Raisin sorting is among the more unusual roles involved in producing hot cross buns at Gunstones Bakery, with two people on each shift sifting through the dried fruit to make sure there are no unwanted stalks. Esther said: “We buy very high quality fruit; as an additional measure we have people that check the fruit to make sure it's what customers would want.”

Hot cross buns have been produced for M&S at Gunstones Bakery since the Seventies.

Gunstones currently has 650 workers on its books, with the increase in business triggering a recruitment drive. Richard said: “We recruited people from August through to Christmas and in January; we’ve taken on about 100 people.”

In the coming weeks the business brains at the bakery on Stubley Lane will look at new flavours of hot cross buns for next year. The 2023 arrivals will complement an existing range which includes blueberry, vegan Plant Kitchen as well as apple and traditional luxury fruited which are both available in M&S stores all the year round.

M&S sells a third of the UK’s hot cross buns, nearly 50million individual buns each year and the equivalent of one for every adult in the country.

Asked to name his favourite flavour, Richard, 56, who has worked at Gunstones Bakery for three years, said: “The Extremely Chocolatey hot cross bun – that was Sunday night’s dessert, with ice cream!”

Golden Blond Chocolate and Salted Caramel Hot Cross Buns have been added to the M&S range produced by Gunstones Bakery.

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Gunstones Bakery at Dronfield produce 12 million hot cross buns for the Easter market.
Gunstones bakery in Dronfield.