Wrexham-based Village Bakery is on a recruitment drive after investing £500k in a new range of wheat-free products.

The investment will be plugged into the company’s existing bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate, which was originally opened in 2008 to make gluten-free bakery goods under a contract with Switzerland’s Hero Group. However, that contract ran out at the end of June and the company has jumped on the opportunity to expand into the growing wheat-free market.

The bakery is being adapted and upgraded to make the new products and the company is looking to take on an additional 16 people to create a second shift to cater for demand.

The company’s new wheat-free range was developed at its innovation centre and includes bread, pizzas and flatbreads, as well as a wide variety of sandwich carriers.

Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to expand into the wheat-free market, which is growing more rapidly than any other sector in the bakery business. We’ve had eight successful years with our old customer and we needed to make some changes in the bakery, because we are going to be wheat-free, not just gluten-free.

“Previously we manufactured with wheat-starch products, which were gluten-free, but wheat-free is a wider audience, so we’ve had to re-equip the bakery. We’ve put in new equipment and we’ve totally revamped it to get it retailer-ready.”

The company claims the wheat-free range will launch “with some major retailers” in September and October. In addition, it is looking at business to business sales with requests from Ireland and other parts of Europe already received.

“The potential is massive,” added Jones. “The wheat-free market is experiencing phenomenal growth. Every Hollywood A-lister wants a wheat-free diet – it’s a lifestyle choice now.”

Operations director Simon Thorpe noted: “We’ve got a track record in making fantastic gluten-free products so it has been comparatively easy to make that transition to producing wheat-free products. This is very much the right thing at the right time.”

Earlier this month Village Bakery struck a deal to supply pies to Wrexham Football Club.