North Wales craft bakery chain Gerrards Confectioners has taken on six of Ecclestons Confectioners 10-strong estate, marking a significant investment for the firm.

The six shops, in Corwen, Bala, Llangollen, Chirk, Gresford and Park Avenue, Wrexham, will be rebranded as Gerrards and director Dawn Van Rensburg told British Baker the firm hopes to have them all open by Christmas. Ecclestons closed its shops and central bakery in August this year, following the retirement of the company’s owner David Eccleston.

"Most of the six shops are very local to our bakery and head office, in Wrexham, and to our current stores," said Rensburg. "We’ve got extra capacity at our bakery, and an excellent workforce, so it’s an ideal opportunity for us to expand our portfolio of shops, and our business."

The newly acquired shops will take Gerrards estate up from nine to 15. The firm, Wales’ oldest family bakers, according to Rensburg, also has nine sandwich vans.

The six shops have been gutted ready for their refits, with the first planned to open in Gresford on 29 November, with the Llangollen and Cowen shops to follow later that week if possible, she said.

The new shops will be for take-away sales only and, while Gerrards would like to keep Ecclestons’ old customers, it aims to give the shops a new lease of life, and attract new customers also, said Rensburg. "There will also be more emphasis on baking-off fresh in-store," she added. Ecclestons used to have products made at a central bakery and delivered daily, but as savouries are almost 50% of Gerrards’ trade it will install ovens in the shops, so that the products can be delivered frozen and baked-off in-store, she explained.

Gerrards has already taken on some of Ecclestons’ old shop staff, who were made redundant this summer, to fill gaps in Gerrards’ existing business.