Jones Village Bakery new scholarship programme winner Maia Larks

Source: Mandy Jones

Jones Village Bakery new scholarship programme winner Maia Larks

Jones Village Bakery has named 19-year-old student Maia Larks as the latest recipient of its annual scholarship programme. 

Having been launched two years ago, the programme offers the winning candidate a 12-month work placement and a £3,000 bursary.

The business, which operates a 140,000 sq ft ‘super bakery’ at Wrexham Industrial Estate and another site in nearby Minera, said Larks will be joining its 13-strong New Product Development team under group NPD manager Florence Roberts.

It noted this would allow her to be ‘right at the heart of the action’, helping to develop around 80 new products a year for a host of customers including ‘some of the biggest names in retail’.

Larks, who hails from Berkshire, is in the second year of a food technology and product development degree course at Harper Adams University in Newport, Shropshire. As a self-described foodie, who inherited a passion for gastronomy from her amateur cook father, she said she was loving her degree course.

“I’m learning so much about food science, marketing and retail, as well as new product development and food creativity,” said Larks.

“I was shocked but so happy when I found I’d won the scholarship,” she added. “It’s a dream come true and I’m looking forward to working here for a year. I’m going to be embedded with the New Product Development team, so I’m going to get such fantastic, hands-on experience.”

Investment in the future

Roberts recognised Larks as a really special talent and said the scholarship would be a “real feather in her cap”.

“As well as looking for academic excellence, we’re looking for a real passion for food and developing new products – and that’s the most important thing,” said Roberts.

“This can be a launching pad for Maia’s career because it’s a great thing to have on your CV… I can guarantee she is going to learn a huge amount over the next 12 months and we’re here to support her on that journey.”

Roberts also noted that, as part of the experience, Larks would be travelling abroad to learn about best practices and world class manufacturing.

“We see this as an investment in the future of the Village Bakery but also the wider food industry,” added Roberts. “We need to attract talent into the bakery industry and this is an excellent way of doing it. At the end of the placement, there’s an opportunity for them to come back to us full time. It’s great for the students and it’s great for the business.”

Jones Village Bakery announced in May that it was looking to recruit 30 new night shift workers to cope with a 20% increase in demand for its own-brand bread.

Earlier in the year, it said it was on course to more than triple its export sales to £5m this year having invested £2m in a new pancake line, described as one of the world’s biggest. This has helped extend its existing supply of products to 200 Marks & Spencer stores worldwide, which includes crumpets, scones, bagels, rolls, Welsh Cakes, and pikelets.