Village Bakery bosses have revealed they are building a 210,000 sq ft production facility to replace the one destroyed by fire this summer.
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 company has now revealed work will start in the next month or so on a replacement that will be four times larger than the original, and that it has claimed will be the most modern bakery in Europe.
“The new super-bakery is a project we’ve had on paper for three years and is designed to grow our production capacity to cater for the huge demand for our products,” said Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones.
“With the fire at Wrexham, it makes sense to accelerate our plans to build the new bakery and get into this as soon as we possibly can.”
The company’s head office was also destroyed in the blaze, and the new facility will include an office complex, a Baking Academy and a new product development kitchen that will be twice the size of the original.
Groundwork contractors are already on-site and building work is due to start on what Jones described as “the absolute crème de la crème of bakeries in the UK and Europe”, with the most modern equipment available.
“The experience of the fire has been a really painful one for all of us at Village Bakery and we would never wish anything like this to happen to anybody else involved in the industry.
“But we are determined to turn an awful negative into a real positive that will help us future-proof. This new production facility will be able to give us huge additional capacity and that will mean more jobs.
“It’s about more than replacing what we’ve lost – this is going to be bigger and better.”
Following the fire, affected workers have been redeployed to Village Bakery’s other three bakeries, where production has been stepped up to maintain supply to customers. Another 30 staff displaced by the fire are now making a new range of American-style bagels, using a specialist production line imported from Canada.
According to the company, orders for other products are rolling in because wholesale customers have been impressed by the way it has responded to the setback.
“We are truly bowled over by the support we’ve had from our customers and the vision that we’ve been given by our customers. We need to grow the business and this will help us do that,” added Jones.
Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Government’s minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, who is also the AM for Wrexham, said Village Bakery was a “very resilient company”.
“It’s amazing to see the new plans, parts of which were in progress before the devastating fire. They are getting on with things and there is a real determination that they are going to be bigger and better.”