Bakery joins upper crust at ceremony

The oldest family firm of craft bakers in Wales is in the running for the top award the industry can bestow.

Wrexham-based Gerrards were thrilled to learn they have reached the final of the annual bakery Oscars.

Gerrards, founded in 1838 and being run by the sixth generation of the family, has been shortlisted in the category for Craft Business of the Year.

The competition is tough because there are around 3,000 bakeries in the UK.

The Bakery Industry Awards will be dished out at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in London’s Park Lane in September. The event will be hosted by TV star Richard Madeley.

The news caps a remarkable year for Gerrards who took on six new stores following the demise of the Eccleston’s bakery when the owner David Eccleston retired.

They added shops in Bala, Corwen, Llangollen, Chirk, Gresford and Wrexham to their portfolio taking the number of outlets to 15 across North Wales and the Wirral.

The firm also has a fleet of eight sandwich vans that supply offices, factories and business parks in North Wales, Shropshire, Cheshire and the Wirral with freshly baked products.

According to director Dawn van Rensburg, they’re now looking at the possibility of further expansion.

She said: “We’re obviously over the moon to be in the running for this prestigious award.

“We feel it’s recognition of the fact that we’re a craft business that’s still upholding the best traditions of the baking business.

 “In addition, we’ve opened six new shops in the last 12 months when many other businesses have been struggling.

 “We’ve had lots of incredibly positive feedback form our customers who’ve come in to our new shops and said that they’re really pleased that there is still a craft bakery on their high street and we’ve had incredible support from them.

“When we opened the Corwen shop we had an email from a customer who said that her dad was so pleased because he used to travel from Corwen to Wrexham twice a week to buy the bread from our shop in Wrexham and now he didn’t have to travel so far.

“We’re expanding without becoming some large national faceless brand.  It’s a family business with strong family values.

“We like to think that we are an integral part of the local economy and we have a company policy where possible to source our ingredients locally.”

Baker and Confectioner Linda Smith said: “There are a lot of bakers all over the country and to come in the first three at least is brilliant. We are very proud of the work we do.

Foreman Chris Williams has worked at the bakery for more than 30 years and met his wife Jeanette there.

He said: “It’s a family business, the staff are all friendly and we all get on. It’s a very happy ship.

“The things that we produce are of a very high standard. Quite a few people have been here a long time so there’s a lot of skill here.

Jeanette, a Baker and Confectioner, added: “It’s really exciting to be in the finals for this award – we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

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