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Bakkavor aims for more network bite with Neos Networks SD-WAN

UK-based provider of fresh prepared food selects software-defined wide area network technology from growing connectivity provider to improve resilience and continue its digital transformation.

As part of its digital transformation, UK-based global provider of fresh prepared food Bakkavor has turned to UK business connectivity provider Neos Networks to transform the company’s multi-site network.

Founded in 1986 with headquarters in London, the Bakkavor Group claims to be the leading provider of fresh prepared food in the UK. As a critical national infrastructure (CNI) provider, it operates across the length and breadth of the country and supplies all of the UK’s major supermarkets with white label food goods and several private label brands.

The company regards itself as number one by market share in the UK in the four fresh prepared food product categories of meals, salads, desserts, and pizza and bread, providing high-quality, fresh, healthy and convenient food. Its customers include some of the UK's leading grocery retailers, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The group has more than 19,000 employees and operates 23 factories in the UK, five in the US and nine in China, particularly growing its presence in the latter two regions.

To ensure the smooth running of its operations, Bakkavor said a robust, resilient network that maximises uptime and productivity was of paramount importance. Bakkavor’s legacy network had become outdated and wasn’t flexible enough or able to adapt to the company’s cloud and digital transformation plans.

By bringing Neos Networks on board, the business said it had already begun to gather much greater visibility of its operations, with real-time network insights providing diagnostic data, better traffic management and greater value for money, as well as enabling the all-important shift to the cloud.

The Neos Networks project has seen Bakkavor deploy a comprehensive software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) across 22 UK sites and one international site in Spain. The network has been built to support secure, reliable connectivity across Bakkavor’s entire footprint, including all its food production and datacentre locations.

The network transformation afforded by SD-WAN is also said to be helping Bakkavor to connect its large, data-rich warehouses and fast-moving supply operations reliably and securely. The technology allows the full utilisation of bandwidth across multiple connections, offering automation and improved delivery of service to its users.

“As a CNI provider, ensuring our production facilities and multiple sites have a reliable, resilient network to operate is essential,” said Bakkavor network and datacentre domain lead Richard Barton. “In support of our continued digital transformation and international growth, we selected Neos Networks due to its vast experience in similar projects and knowledge of managing large-scale network transformations.

“We firmly believe in the power of SD-WAN technology to help bring independence to our sites with network visibility and resilience, ensuring maximum uptime for our essential production facilities. We’re looking forward to continuing the relationship in the coming years,” he added.

The delivery by Neos Networks has been such a success that the initial contract was extended earlier this year to support continued network automation and improvement.

Going forward, Bakkavor will also be able to undertake tactical work focused on improving overall performance and productivity, with the adoption of SD-WAN also providing the business and its UK-based IT team with added control and uniformity over its growing network. The additional scope of work will see SD-WAN technology cover additional sites in the US.

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