Wrexham Baking Academy project on a roll as construction work starts

Work has started on a new £3 million baking academy that will generate 30 jobs during the construction phase.

The academy will be the first of its kind in the UK and is being built by the Village Bakery next to their two bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

The state-of-the-art facility will have a gym and rooftop canteen and terrace for staff as part of the family firm’s drive to recruit and retain staff.

The scheme also includes office space and an innovation centre to develop and perfect new products.

The contract to build the four storey, 26,000 sq ft centre of excellence has been won by award-winning Anwyl Construction, who are based in Rhyl.

The first sod was cut by local AM Lesley Griffiths, who is also Minister for Local Government and Government Business, and the centre should be up and running early next year.

Last year the Village Bakery – which employs 300 people and also has a bakery in Minera – was crowned Wales’s fastest growing company and the aim is to train the next generation of bakers to cater for future expansion plans.

Ms Griffiths said: “The plans for the Baking Academy and Innovation Centre are very impressive and once again the Village Bakery are ahead of the curve. They are very much a role model for industry in Wales.

“What I like about the Village Bakery is that they’re a family business and they’ve stayed true to their traditions as craft bakers whilst using cutting edge technology and the best equipment to develop high quality products.

“We really need our young people to have skills that will let them have a really great job and a good career and being a baker is an excellent career.

“I am very proud to have the Village Bakery in my constituency – they’re flying the flag for Wales in general and Wrexham in particular.

“What they’re doing is a perfect fit with the Welsh Government’s ambitions for the food and drinks industry.”

Village Bakery director Christien Jones said: “We have chosen a local family business, Anwyl Construction, who have a brilliant reputation and we’re delighted that it means our new Baking Academy is to going to be built by Welsh builders.

“The main function of the building will be to train our bakers and apprentices. There will be lecture rooms and a lecture theatre that holds more than 100 people. Our technical and commercial teams will also be based there.

“The facilities will also be available to our customers. We can show them how to bake our products in their stores and they can hold regional meetings there.

“There will be a gym for our staff, a rooftop canteen and terrace for them to relax when they’re on a break. There will also be quiet rooms where people can go to read.

“We have designed it to give our staff some extra benefits from working at the Village Bakery. All members of staff can have a hot meal during their shift.

“We want to give our staff the best to set us apart from other local employers which will help recruitment.

“We are a family firm and treating our staff well is part of our DNA. We want to go that extra mile and make the Village Bakery a better place to work.

“Training our own staff has always been a strength of ours – we then make sure we have staff who buy in to the Village Bakery culture.

“We are family focused, people focused and most of our managers and supervisors are Village Bakery people who have come up through the ranks.

“We have enjoyed some excellent, sustainable growth and we have a brilliant team on all three sites which gives us the confidence to go from strength to strength.”

It was music to the ear of apprentice baker Justin Webb, 21, who said: “There’s a massive emphasis on training here. Most of our managers are home grown.  They’ve come through the same system as I have and they’ve been successful and that’s an inspiration to me.”

HR assistant Lauren Roberts 24, was given a full-time job after impressing bosses during a 10-week Go Wales placement.

She said: “It’s a really friendly, family orientated place to work but at the same time it’s a really go-ahead company.”

Anwyl Construction Director Tom Anwyl said: “This is a ground-breaking and innovative project and we’re delighted to have been chosen to carry it out.

“Village Bakery is a major North Wales business success story and we’re pleased that they have chosen a local firm for this very important build.

“It shows that here in North Wales we have the capability to carry out major schemes and it means that we are now involved in over £20 million of new projects in the area this year.

“We always strive to use locally-based sub-contractors and supply chains and in this case just about everyone working on the build will be from North Wales.

“We are also committed to providing apprenticeships and that’s important to us here and elsewhere because it helps guarantee a strong and skilled workforce with the capability to carry out projects like this.”

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