Allied Mills launches modernization program

by Teresa Acklin
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U.K. miller's massive mill investment program includes a greenfield plant in Manchester.

   Leading U.K. flour miller Allied Mills Ltd. is to build a new flour mill on a greenfield site at Centenary Park, Manchester, U.K. The new Coronet mill is part of a massive five-year £75 million to £100 million (U.S.$120 million to U.S.$160 million) capital investment program recently approved by Allied's parent company, Associated British Foods P.L.C. The program, called Project Apollo, is believed to be one of the largest mill modernization investment programs in the world.

   In addition to the new mill at Manchester, three other mills, at Tilbury, Rochford and Seaforth are to be fully modernized with new plant and equipment. The main contractor for all four mills is Buhler Ltd., Uzwil, Switzerland.

   The investment program will not increase Allied's production capacity, however. Three smaller mills are to be closed down over the next four years. These are the Cranfield mill in Ispwich, the H. & R. Ainscough mill at Burscough and the Thomas Sugden & Son mill in Brighouse. This will leave Allied with a total of 12 mills — most of which will have been fully updated within the past 12 years.

   The aim of the Apollo project is to incorporate the latest milling technology in terms of production efficiency, computerized systems and quality control. The project follows an in-depth study of the company's plants, customer base and market trends.

   Bread consumption in the U.K. is virtually static, although there are signs that it may increase slightly as dietary trends change. New opportunities are also opening up with a wider variety of breads and bakery products. But the bread market is fiercely competitive and prices are very much under the control of the supermarket chains.

   Allied believes that the ability to maintain its position as the leading milling company in the U.K. depends on advanced production systems and cost control.

   The Coronet mill at Centenary Park is being built on a 4 hectare site alongside the Manchester Ship Canal. It is near Allied's very large customer base in northwest England with good access to both domestic and imported wheat supplies. The Coronet mill will have a production capacity of 750 tonnes per 24 hours.

   The modernization project also includes the installation of some specialist production units. In addition to a complete new milling plant at Tilbury, a semolina mill is also being built at the site.

   Another of the company's mills at Corby is to become the center of production for Allied's value added products. This will entail the installation of several dedicated units including a bakery premix plant and other specialist equipment for producing a range of cake flours and other niche products.

   The Apollo project will be phased over the next four years, starting with Manchester mill and the value added project at Corby, followed by the mill modernizations at Tilbury, Rochford and Seaforth. Completion is scheduled for 2000.

   Ralph Richard, chairman of Allied's parent company within the A.B.F. Group, Cereal Industries Ltd., said recently that the study of the Group's plants and customer base highlighted the need for cost effectiveness.

   “The industry is extremely competitive, and we believe the best way to succeed is to bring down costs and improve efficiency,” Mr. Richard said. “The latest technology will enable us to meet the demands of our customers for quality and consistency over the increasingly wide range of products which the market demands. It will maintain Allied Mills' position as leaders in the flour milling industry in the U.K. for many years to come.”

Allied Mills Ltd.: Mill modernization project

      Mills to be modernized

   Sunblest Mill


   Rankin Flour Mills


   Seaforth Mill


      Mills to be closed

   H. & R. Ainscough


   Cranfield Brothers Ltd.


   Thomas Sugden & Son


      New greenfield mill

   Coronet Mill


      Value added project

   Sovereign Flour Mill


      Other Allied mills

   Chancelot Mill Ltd.


   Crayford Flour Mill


   William King


   Kings Mills


   Healings Flour Mills


   James Neill Ltd.


   J. & R. Snodgrass