Welsh business The Village Bakery has marked the start of construction of a new factory following a devastating fire last year.
Founder and chairman Alan Jones and his wife Wendy have cut the turf at the site in Ash Road on Wrexham Industrial Estate, less than half a mile from the bakery that was destroyed by fire last August.
A one-storey production area that produced crumpets and Welsh cakes was severely damaged by the blaze on the morning of 19 August, which spread to the adjoining office block. None of the 450 staff at the family-owned business in Wrexham, Wales, were injured.
The family described the fire as the “darkest day” in the company’s history since Alan and his father Harry bought the business in 1964.
Despite the loss of the factory, the business has not made anybody redundant. It has reorganised production in its three other bakeries, while an extension is being built at the company’s gluten-free bakery for a segregated production area to make crumpets.
As a result, the company says it will have restored all of its lost production in a few weeks’ time.
The factory is being replaced with a 140,000 sq ft facility that will be four times the size of the original. Due to be up and running in just over 12 months, the company says it will give the business capacity to “grow to the next level”.
“The fire was a dreadful, devastating experience for all of us but at no point did we feel sorry for ourselves and we vowed to bounce back stronger than ever,” said Jones. “The fact that we are a tightknit, family operation meant we were able to make quick decisions and turn a disaster into an opportunity.
“The new bakery will be bigger, better and more modern and will lay the foundation for future growth and success.”
Village Bakery described the new site as “the most modern in Europe”.
“We are buying the very best equipment that’s available, mainly from Holland, Italy, France and Germany,” explained project director Christien Jones, Alan and Wendy’s son.
“Today has been a significant milestone, with Mum and Dad cutting the first sod at the site of the new bakery in Ash Road. Mum also comes from a family of bakers so it’s part of our DNA,” he added.
Alan Jones was honoured for his Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry in the 2018 Baking Industry Awards.
The 2020 Baking Industry Awards are now open for entry.