Each month we profile a family business to see how it has passed down through the generations. Here, Henllan Bakery maps its growth from a Welsh village firm to a major wholesale operation
Evolution keeps a bakery business alive, and is the reason Henllan Bakery has thrived for more than a century.
Established as Bryn Helyg Bakery in 1908 by Llew Williams, who began his career helping his nain (grandmother) bake bread for the local street, the bakery has mostly employed family members.
It made deliveries using horse and cart to neighbouring villages, acquiring a motorised fleet by the late 1920s. Llew’s daughter Lois and son-in-law Frank joined the firm in 1960, followed by their sons Wyn in the mid-60s and Harvey in 1973.
“Trade flourished and the business rapidly outgrew the bakery in Park Road, Wrexham,” explains Tom Moore, fifth-generation family baker at Henllan. Fortunately, a bakery came up for sale 20 miles away. “Frank and Lois were in their 50s and somewhat loath to move, but were persuaded by their sons to take the plunge. They bought Henllan Bread and all moved to Denbigh,” adds Tom.
With a new name and bakery, the business thrived. Over the next 25 years, Henllan grew from employing 18 staff to 35 and expanded distribution across North Wales. By the late 2000s Henllan had acquired another bakery in Oswestry and had been joined by Wyn’s sons, Tom and Edd, and Harvey’s son and daughter, Jonathan and Ainslie.
Tom says he couldn’t wait to get stuck into the family firm. “I used to bunk off college to bake with my dad,” he laughs. “My dad’s words ‘Don’t tell your mother’ always spring to mind.”
While Tom looked up to his dad, he wasn’t content to simply tread in his footsteps. “I started out on a mission to change things in the business to a more modern way of thinking, but keeping the ‘traditional craft baking’ we’ve always had,” he says. “Bakery businesses were closing down around us and I knew why – they weren’t changing with the times.”
Persistence paid off and, since then, Henllan has invested heavily in machinery and infrastructure, enabling the firm to win contracts with Asda, Morrisons, The Co-op and Tesco while the company’s wholesale accounts have grown to 800.
Tom now spends more time on the day-to-day running of the firm, but is passionate about investing in the next generation of bakers. Henllan took on two apprentices three years ago, and now has six trainees in its workforce, which has grown to be 80-strong. “It is an exciting time for the business and everyone involved at Henllan Bakery,” he says.
1908: Llew Williams establishes cottage bakery Bryn Helyg
1920s: The business switches from horse and cart to a motorised fleet
1971: Llew retires. His daughter and son-in-law take over
1975: Having outgrown the site on Park Road, Frank and Lois buy Henllan Bread in Denbigh
2000s: The next generation, Tom (pictured right), Edd, Jonathan and Ainslie, join the business
2014: Asda becomes the first supermarket Henllan delivers to
2016: The business changes its name to Henllan Bakery
2017: Henllan wins contracts to supply Tesco and Morrisons