Developer snaps up Cooplands site

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A Rotherham property developer has snapped up the former Cooplands bakery headquarters in Doncaster promising to redevelop it - and retain the existing tenants.

Peter Birch, of Wiseton Developments, beat off ‘substantial interest’ to acquire the site at Wharf Road, Wheatley, from administrator Deloitte.

He said he hoped to let the oven area of the main building to a bakery business and split and let the rest for storage.

He also hoped to build some commercial and light industrial units on the 5.5 acre plot. Six firms in a nineteenth century mill and several fully-let industrial buildings would be retained, he added.

The announcement ends the uncertainty over the site which was marketed by Bilfinger GVA ‘in parts or in its entirety’.

Cooplands went under with the loss of 300 jobs in February.

Mr Birch said: “I was impressed by the location and the quality of the buildings, the bakery in particular is very high spec.

“The existing people are staying exactly where they are, it’s business as usual for them.

“I’ve had interest from someone who wants to take 12,000sq ft in the main building. There could be new commercial units and possibly flats on the rest of the site but we’ve made no huge decision yet.”

Birch set up Mortgage Talk which merged with Mortgage Advice Bureau in 2012. It floated on the stock exchange for £81m in November. He has since sold all his shares - worth £12m - and is now expanding into property development. Wiseton Developments, of Stainforth, Rotherham, is refurbishing 57 homes in the Dearne Valley and is building new houses and a block of flats.

Cooplands went under due to unsustainable losses caused by high manufacturing costs and falling trade, according to administrators.

Business restructuring specialist Resolve bought 41 stores and 26 bap vans, saving 260 jobs.

Alex Sweetman, of Bilfinger GVA, said: “Commercial properties in sustainable locations are in demand.”