South Wales-based La Crème Patisserie & Catering Co plans to expand its retail and wholesale operations having completing the purchase of a new factory unit on the Baglan Moors in Neath Port Talbot.

Building work started in December on what will be the La Crème Centre of Excellence and directors Siân and Ian Hindle hope the new unit will be fully operational by March 2009.

The business’ fortunes were boosted when Siân Hindle was awarded runner-up in the Puratos-sponsored Patissier of the Year category at the Baking Industry Awards 2007. The accolade “made a huge impact” on the business, said Ian Hindle. “It took us to a different level.”He explained that prior to 2008, around 90% of the company’s sales were from selling patisserie directly to consumers. “From January last year, we started supplying cafés, coffee shops and hotels. It was the reason we decided to create the centre as we couldn’t cope with demand. We’d like it to be much more than just a manufacturing unit.”

The centre, which will employ 10 people and cost £240,000, will also house a wedding and birthday cake studio and will host cookery classes and demonstrations.

It will become the base for the company’s corporate, civic and business customers. The unit will also feature the latest technology, from web cams, to flat-screen TVs as well as interactive features such as recipe forums.

“We also aim to one day have a number of La Crème outlets served by that unit,” he added.

La Crème, established in December 2005, specialises in the creation of bespoke gateaux, cakes and desserts and also provides an outside catering service - La Crème Catering - for private and business customers.

You can watch the progress of the unit on La Crème’s blog site -