Wrexham-based Village Bakery is a family-run firm of craft bakers. They produce in volume while still using traditional skills so it doesn’t compromise on quality.
The £45m turnover business employs 450 and supplies major retail outlets as well as the foodservice industry. In this manufacturer close up, we chat to managing director Robin Jones about the rise of the Village Bakery.
Tell us about Village Bakery
The original bakery was founded by the Edwards Brothers in 1934 and 30 years later it was bought by company chairman Alan Jones and his father, Harry.
Alan transformed what was a small back street bakery with just five employees into a multi-award-winning business that has three bakeries supplying high quality products to some of the best-known names in UK retail as well as making our own acclaimed branded goods.
Day-to-day, the company is now run by two of his sons, myself Robin, the managing director, and my brother Christien, the projects director.
Four years ago, the company’s £4m state-of-the-art Baking Academy and Innovation Centre was officially opened by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
What products are in your range – and what sets you apart from your competitors?
We make premium breads, morning goods, savouries and bespoke products for major retail and supermarket chains as well as a network of small independent retailers and the foodservice industry.
We have also been making free from products for more than a decade and last year we launched our own Gluten Freedom brand which is proving hugely popular.
Customers tell us our gluten free bread is the best they’ve ever tasted and that they had to double check it was in fact gluten free.
At the prestigious Free From Food Awards at the Royal College of Physicians in London our Made Without Wheat Belgian Chocolate Twists took gold in the Innovation category after being entered by Marks and Spencer.
They were named Free From Product of the Year at the industry Oscars, the Baking Industry Awards, where Village Bakery chairman Alan Jones won the Outstanding Achievement Award.
We have now launched our gluten free products, all of which can be frozen, with Harlech Foodservice with whom we work very closely to expand the number of outlets where they’re available.
Who do you supply?
Our customer base is wide and varied. We supply the major multiples in the UK as well as local shops, cafes, restaurants and foodservice operators.
We have foodservice partners like Harlech Foodservice and we have recently launched with buying group Fairway Foodservice, which includes foodservice wholesalers including JMP Foodservice and Total Foodservice.
What’s the business plan for future growth?
We have invested heavily in launching our new Gluten Freedom brand and we recently opened a 70,000 sq ft bakery making high-quality free from products.
Opening the bakery has enabled us to make anything from pancakes, bread, rolls, pittas, naan breads, right through to sandwich thins and even hot cross buns.
Our core business, including premium breads, morning goods, and pies, is also growing rapidly.
We pioneered the idea of local sourcing and what people like about our products is that they are authentic, and made with the best possible ingredients.
It’s about using our traditional skills to produce in volume – we’re essentially a craft bakery but we’ve got the scale to cater for all customers.
What difference is Erudus making to the Village Bakery?
The great thing about Erudus is all our specifications are on there, all the data about allergens and nutritionals, which makes it a great resource for the caterer or the foodservice operator to have a one-stop shop so they can look at all the information needed to create menus and recipes.
Essentially, everything is on that website and I think that helps speed up the process of developing new menus because you don’t have to constantly refer back to specifications or request them.
We invested in it 18 months ago and we’ve never looked back since we’ve done it so it’s a great system.