An award-winning company has unveiled plans for a new Baking Academy – the first of its kind in Wales.
The Village Bakery is seeking planning permission for the academy so they can train the next generation of bakers.
The scheme also includes office space and a state-of-the-art innovation centre to develop and perfect new products.
If permission is granted by Wrexham County Borough Council, the four-storey, 26,000 sq ft building will be located next to the family firm’s two bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
The company, which employs 250 people and also has a bakery in Minera, was crowned as Wales’s fastest-growing company at the prestigious Fastgrowth 50 Awards.
According to the Village Bakery, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the development would be an important building block for future expansion.
Director Christien Jones briefed Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, on their plans during a visit to the bakery on Thursday, March 13.
He also met two young people who have gained permanent jobs after spending time at the Village Bakery on 10-week placements as part of the Go Wales scheme. Kieren Windsor, 22, now works in the firm’s marketing department, while Lauren Roberts, 24, is employed in HR.
AM Ken Skates with Kieren Windsor, Lauren Roberts and Village Bakery director Christien Jones.
Mr Skates, who is also the AM for Clwyd South, said: “I am delighted The Village Bakery has been able to utilise skills programmes offered by the Welsh Government to help grow the company.
“Whether it’s through Go Wales, Jobs Growth Wales, apprenticeships or Essential Skills in the Workplace, every business can benefit from Welsh Government schemes.
“The Village Bakery is a superb, responsible employer that invests in innovation and employees and I am very excited about the firm’s plans for the coming years.”
The Village Bakery’s success at the recent Wales Fastgrowth 50 Awards was founded on developing new products and increasing sales to well-known supermarket and high street brands across the UK allied to exports across mainland Europe and as far afield as Singapore.
As part of the 80th anniversary celebration, the company has just undergone a major rebranding of everything from packaging to their fleet of delivery vehicles.
Mr Jones added: “These are exciting times for us at the Village Bakery and I was grateful to have the opportunity to share our plans for the Baking Academy and Innovation Centre with Mr Skates.
“The training we offer at the Village Bakery isn’t just vocational training, it’s all the way up to higher education and we have links to universities and Go Wales.
“Training and innovation have been an important part of our success and most of our managers and supervisors have come up through the ranks after starting as apprentices.
“Before we expand any more, we need fresh people coming in with fresh ideas and skills.
“We’re passionate about sticking to our roots as craft bakers while using technology and innovation to help improve our products – to ensure the best products, we need the best people using the best ingredients and the best equipment.
“The Welsh Government been fantastic in all areas from our agri-food grants down to training, training support, even down to marketing support we have received.
“The Go Wales scheme has also been very helpful and we have now employed two people as a result of them coming here on placement.
“We are clear that we would not have been able to expand so quickly and so successfully without our extremely valuable partnership with the Welsh Government.”