The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall officially opened a new £4m Baking Academy and Innovation Centre built by the Village Bakery at Wrexham Industrial Estate yesterday.

The new centre of excellence will be home to a new product development team who will use the state-of-the-art facilities to help develop and perfect new products. The centre, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, will also be used by the company’s apprentices to learn theoretical and practical baking skills. There will be lecture rooms and a lecture theatre that holds more than 100 people.

The family firm celebrated its 80th anniversary last year and now employs around 400 people. It was named Wales’ fastest-growing company in 2013 and the fastest-growing manufacturer last year.

Company chairman Alan Jones showcased the new building’s eco credentials, including a four-storey-high living wall of evergreen plants. Other green features include rainwater harvesting, high levels of insulation and building panels made of recycled material.

Jones said: “When you look back at the success of the company it’s down to the care we’ve taken in training people.

“We’ve been growing our own talent, and that’s giving us a firm foundation for success in the future and this is what the Baking Academy and Innovation Centre are all about.”

The first port of call for their Royal Highnesses was the test bakery, where they saw a display of assorted freshly baked breads and met members of the team. They then went on a guided tour of the bakery next door, where amongst other things, they saw the Welsh cakes production line in action.

Prince Charles said: “What a huge delight it has been to come and visit here.

“I also wanted to say how marvellous it is that you take such trouble to have so many apprentices here, and to train people for this incredibly high-quality operation.

“The fact that you sell now in so many different parts of the world is a huge tribute, I think, to this remarkable Welsh company and all its devoted, as I can see, dedicated workforce.”