Family bakers celebrates shop anniversary

The oldest family firm of craft bakers in Wales is celebrating a major milestone in its history – the 70th anniversary of their first ever shop.

But Gerrards goes back even further to 1838 when it was founded by Mary Gerrard and the company is still going strong with the sixth generation of the family at the helm.

It’s exactly 70 years since Gerrards opened their first retail shop in Wrexham town centre.

On hand to help them mark the anniversary at one of their most modern branches was Michael Coxey, Managing Director of Coxey’s chartered accountants which has offices in Wrexham and Saltney.

The bond between the two firms goes back almost 90 years. The accountancy firm, founded in 1927 as W. Cross and Co, has been taking care of financial matters for Gerrards since the 1920s.

So when Gerrards was marking the 70th anniversary of the opening of its first shop and café in Lambpit Street at their Lord Street shop and café just around the corner, Michael Coxey topped the guest list.

Gerrards’ Director Philip Gerrard Jones, who is the fifth generation of his family in the bakery business, joining in the mid-1950s, fondly recalls the shop in Lambpit Street opened by his father just after the end of the Second World War in 1945.

He said: “The property is no longer there and was demolished to make away for a new shopping development some years ago but stood roughly opposite the Seven Stars pub, which is still there today of course.

“I remember that it was extremely busy and wasn’t just a bakers shop but a café too.

“In the days when many people enjoyed a business lunch, the café must have served about a hundred a day along with afternoon teas and it kept busy as there must have been 20 shops along Lambpit Street at that time as well as the entrance to the market.

“The Lambpit Street shop and café was such a success that a few years later, in the early 1950s, my father opened a second one like it in Church Street, Wrexham, which was also very successful and is the one most people will probably still remember.

“From those early beginnings in Lambpit Street the business has grown significantly to the point where we now have 17 outlets across North Wales, Chester and the Wirral plus nine mobile bakery shops serving offices and business parks in North Wales, Shropshire, Cheshire and the Wirral.

“That’s why we think it’s important to mark the 70th anniversary of where it all began in Wrexham in that modest shop and we’re delighted to have Michael Coxey to help us celebrate.

“His firm of accountants has been with us every step of the way as we expanded.”

Philip’s daughter, Dawn van Rensburg, who is the sixth generation of her family to run Gerrards with her husband Dirk, said: “The services of Coxeys are invaluable to us across all our accounting needs.

“I find them very professional to work with and I hope the association of our two companies goes on for many years.”

Dawn added: “Since those early days in Lambpit Street our business has had to be very adaptable and stay up to date and grasp new business opportunities.

“In the last five years, we’ve opened eight new branches, our newest being in Northgate Street and Hoole Village in Chester, both of which we opened last year.

“We’ve also expanded our ‘Gerrards Direct’ delivery van service adding two new vans into Oswestry and Ellesmere Port.

“We are continuing to look for other opportunities as they arise.”

Michael Coxey said: “Gerrards have been a client of our practice since the 1920s and I have personally acted as their accountant since I joined the firm in 1974, meeting James, Philip’s father, just before he died.

“That’s why I am very proud to have been invited along to help the mark the 70th anniversary of their first Wrexham shop and café.

“I think the secret of their success and steady growth over the years has been their highly skilled workforce and use of only the highest quality ingredients in their products.

“Members of the family have always shown great dedication to their business as when Dawn spent two years, from 2008 to 2010, as president of the Richemont Club of Great Britain, and Vice President of the International Richemont Club – an international organisation representing the best craft bakers and confectioners across Europe helping its members to share their skills and expertise.”

He added: “Coxeys is delighted to be associated with Gerrards and I hope we can continue to work closely with them well into the future.”

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