The Village Bakery is ramping up its presence in the burgeoning free-from market with the development of a new £12m gluten-free factory and the launch of its own brand.
The business is converting a former wire factory in Wrexham into what it described as the most advanced gluten-free bakery in Europe.
Due to be operational by the end of this year, the site has been re-clad and extended from 55,000sq ft to 75,000sq ft. It will make products including bread, rolls, morning goods, pancakes, pitta bread and naan bread, and plans “cutting edge” NPD for next year.
The Village Bakery, which last year won the Bakery Innovation category in British Baker’s Baking Industry Awards, currently produces gluten-free goods from a smaller factory on Wrexham Industrial Estate. Existing staff will be transferred to the new bakery when it opens and the company said it expected the expansion to eventually create more jobs.
The business has made gluten-free products for 10 years and, until recently, supplied these to wholesale customers. It has now launched its own brand called Village Bakery Gluten Freedom, which is being supplied to shops in North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Shropshire.
“We’ve been all over Europe and we’ve sourced the best equipment to make these products, and also some new processes to make some different products that are new to the Village Bakery,” said managing director Robin Jones
“The existing gluten-free bakery is becoming increasingly cramped, so we need the extra capacity. That’s why we decided as a family – my father Alan, the company chairman, and my brother, Christien, the projects director – to take this step.
Jones added that the decision to launch its own brand was driven by continued growth in the market and demand from its customers.
“Our retail partners are excited because it’s so new and there are such radical ideas going in there, and we’re delighted to get the Village Bakery Gluten Freedom brand on our vans because we’ve had lots of requests over the years.”
He added that taste was key to the business, and that its products were set apart from those of its rivals by a long ferment.
"We treat it like we would any other bakery product with the advantage of its free-from qualities, so you don’t have to sacrifice taste at all.”