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Weston buys Toronto artisan breadmaker

Baking giant Weston Foods has sealed a deal to buy a nationwide supplier of artisan and European-style rustic breads.

Weston on Monday announced it’s completed its purchase of Toronto’s ACE Bakery for $110 million.

“The ACE Bakery brand is known for its quality products and will complement our existing family of brands, allowing us to better serve our customers,” Weston Foods president Galen Weston said in a release.

The company was founded in 1993 by Ontario entrepreneurs Martin Connell and Linda Haynes, a husband-and-wife duo whose interest in bread stemmed from making baguettes in a family bakehouse at Caledon, northwest of Toronto.

ACE now distributes to chains across Canada ranging from IGA and Sobeys to Metro, Shoppers Drug Mart and Zehrs, as well as to the midwestern and eastern U.S. through chains such as A+P, Waldbaums and Tops Markets, and to hotels in the Bahamas.

ACE already also supplies artisan breads to a number of chains owned by Weston’s retail sister, Loblaw Companies, including Loblaws, Dominion, Superstore, Provigo, Your Independent Grocer, Fortino’s and Maxi et Cie.

The company in recent years has expanded its product lines to include crisps, whole grain breads, granola and cookies.

Connell and Haynes, also well-known for their philanthropic work, previously funded their charitable organization Calmeadow through a portion of ACE’s pre-tax profits.

Calmeadow, which provides credit and financing to micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries, has since “attained self-sufficiency,” ACE said on its website.

ACE said it now focuses its charitable work on food and nutrition programs for low-income members of the community. It also supports organic farming initiatives and culinary scholarships.

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