European Process Plant Ltd (EPP) is this year celebrating its 50th Anniversary in business. Founded in February 1972 by Godfrey Morris and Colin Hall, after half a century in operation it has become the most successful supplier of high-quality bakery and food processing equipment from leading specialist manufacturers across Europe.
The team at EPP are hugely proud of their achievements over the last fifty years with many UK baking industry firsts being established over the years. Steve Merritt, Managing Director of EPP commented, “Over the years we have developed our offering, to not only include designing, supplying and installing the best baking equipment but also having quick access to those essential spare parts and engineering advice. Our team are also able to help with maintaining the equipment and in the unlikely event of a breakdown, a swift and reliable response team. We have a fantastic team currently working for us with many exciting developments and opportunities. We work closely with our customers and can offer bakers test facilities with our manufacturers to trial new products and processes both in the UK and at our manufacturers premises across Europe in order to perfect the end results.”
Godfrey Morris first came up with the vision for EPP whilst working for a UK bakery equipment manufacturer, G&R Gilberts of Hackbridge. During the 60s, his many business trips to all corners of the world showed how other European countries and start-up manufacturers were setting new trends in bakery automation. Sandwich bread production was already quite efficient but Godfrey saw the opportunity for much of the UK baking industry to benefit from these European company’s innovations and, with Colin Hall, another former employee of Gilberts, and son of a baker, started EPP.
Godfrey and Colin had great ambition and a very clear objective –revolutionise the UK production of flour-based goods in terms of speed, scale, quality and consistency.
Stewart Morris, Godfrey’s son, has now worked at EPP for some 35 years (now longer than Godfrey himself and EPP’s longest serving employee). Stewart commented, “I remember my father starting the business when I was five years old, he and Colin converted my playroom into EPP HQ!”
The business quickly grew and EPP moved into premises on Banstead High Street and then later to the purpose-built offices and stores in Epsom where it still operates today. During this time, EPP continued to selectively forge new working relationships with other equipment manufacturers across Europe and expand its range of equipment.
EPP has been disruptive to the UK baking industry over the last 50 years, being responsible for introducing many firsts for the UK, such as the first fully automatic puff pastry laminator, the first modular convection tunnel oven, the first automatic scotch pie line, the König Mini Rex (star of the craft and supermarket bakery) as well as being responsible for bringing large scale production of part baked frozen bread to the UK, to name but a few.
Godfrey and Colin sold the business after growing and running EPP successfully for some 25 years to the then General Manager, Keith Stalker, and Josie Mitchell, Accounts Manager, who went onto run the business for a further 20 years. A further management buy-out took place five years ago, where they brought in EPP’s current Managing Director, Steve Merritt. Keith and Josie still have shares in the business.
Keith and Josie mentioned, “We had been looking to retire, and looking for the right person to take EPP into the future. We both knew of Steve Merritt, who had an engineering background and previously worked for Nestlé in the past and then at Warburtons. Steve has the engineering knowledge and background we were looking for, along with intelligent ideas and passion to take EPP forward.”
Over its 50 years, EPP has grown with some of the leading European manufacturing partners, such as König, whom it has worked with for some 45 years, when König was a start-up. EPP launched the König Mini Rex into the UK. EPP has also been part of the growth of some of the now well-known industry baking names across the UK and has been responsible for designing, supplying, installing and maintaining numerous turnkey and bespoke equipment solutions to hundreds of businesses.
Godfrey added, “I remember a now well-known Cornish Pasty company, back in ‘72 they were also a start-up and were operating from a converted chicken shed – we were approached as they needed to scale up their production, we were able to help with an automated line from one of our European manufacturers to help speed up the process and increase production for their popular pasties.
Josie Mitchell added, “When I first worked in the business and before the Euro came in, EPP had 13 different European currencies and 13 different bank accounts, this made doing business with European manufacturers very difficult, but with our knowledge and experience of importing/exporting products, and our flexible approach, we were and are still able to help make life easier for UK bakers, particularly with the new and most recent challenges that Brexit has brought about.”
Stewart Morris further commented, “I believe EPP’s success is due to our relationships, experience and knowledge of equipment and the baking industry. The team are good at interpreting the requirements and meeting the demands of our customers for new and innovative production solutions.
“Over the years we have seen lots of new trends, such as the growth of supermarkets that require bigger equipment for food manufacturers to produce larger volumes, but at the same time keeping the quality and consistency to satisfy consumer demands.”
Newest to the team at EPP is James McConnell, who joined during the pandemic, and commented, “I am proud to be at a company which has led the industry for so long, it makes me feel like I have a responsibility to work as hard as possible to ensure future success of EPP. The fact that our team is close knit and we meet every morning (via Teams) also emphasises this point, we all have to work together to achieve our organisational goals. Just like the machines which we sell and fix, all of the cogs within the team need to function.”
Steve Merritt, Managing Director, EPP concluded, “It’s exciting to be contributing to creating bespoke baking processes and products and to satisfy our customer needs with some of our successes, with some spinning off into other countries around the world. EPP has evolved over the years whilst still maintaining our core principles that it was founded with –we only work with the best European manufacturers to supply our UK and Irish customers; this ensures we supply the top equipment in our designs and are able to deliver the best after care service and support that our customers have come to expect.”
Talk to EPP about how to maximise your bakery potential: email@example.com.