CRAFT bakery chain Arthur Chatwin is to open its 20th shop on February 8, in a prime site in Chester town centre.

“This is a massive move for us,” said retail director Edward Chatwin. “We’re really excited at the prospect of opening in Chester city centre. We have 20 outlets across Cheshire and Staffordshire but this really is the Big One.”

Chatwins is taking over the premises at 25 Northgate Street from Weinholt’s the bakers, which has traded there for almost 15 years. The prime site location, in Northgate Street, is set to become a flagship for the Nantwich–based firm. “We will be making some minor changes,” said Mr Chatwin, “and putting in a new oven for baking-off our products.”

All the products made by Chatwins in its craft bakery in Nantwich will be available in the Chester shop while, upstairs, customers will enjoy a traditional waitress service in the 70-seater café tea room.

“To have a shop within Chester city centre has always been a major goal for the company,” said Mr Chatwin, “and I’m sure my late grandfather, Arthur, would be very proud and excited to know that we shall finally be opening there.”

Meanwhile, Weinholt’s owner John Weinholt, a member of the British Confectioners’ Association, said the move will allow him to cut back his working hours from around 80 a week to a more “sensible” 50. He commented: “With all the onerous bureaucracy and legislation of running more than one shop, the bakery craft has had to take second place for me. Having just one shop will enable me to focus on baking, which I enjoy.”

Mr Weinholt, now 51, is left with one shop in Handbridge in Chester, opened by his father in 1953. The sale of his Northgate Street store will regretfully mean four job losses in the Handbridge-based production side of the business. “Two of the staff were ready to retire and I am doing my utmost to find alternative employment for one full-time and one part-time member of staff in the area,” he said.

Mr Weinholt explained Chatwins was given first refusal on the Northgate Street site as the two families had a “gentleman’s agreement” stretching back decades not to encroach on each other’s territory. “The Chatwins family have come under pressure to move into Chester over the years and it is admirable that they have not. I wish them all the very best success in Chester.”