A family firm has unveiled its new super bakery just two years after its predecessor was destroyed in a fire.

Bread has now started rolling off the production line at the Jones Village Bakery’s new 140,000sq ft plant on Wrexham Industrial Estate after flames ripped through the original bakery on August 19, 2019.

No one was hurt in the incident and since then, the family has been busy planning its recovery.

The new bakery is four times the size of the old one and was built in record time. It has a 120-metre long state-of-the-art production line imported from Italy and Holland that can make 36,000 bread rolls an hour.

As well as housing the company’s main offices, the new complex also a larger baking academy and new product development kitchen.

The expansion means the company is now in the process of recruiting 115 new staff.

To serve as a reminder of the “indomitable spirit” that enabled the firm to recover so quickly, the Jones family has erected a striking sculpture outside, made from a steel girder that was horribly bent by the intense heat of the blaze at the old bakery.

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An inscription says: “This twisted metal girder was salvaged from the devastating fire that destroyed our flagship bakery on August 19, 2019. It is a lasting tribute to the heroic resilience shown by all the Village People when our darkest day turned into our finest hour.”

The designing, building and equipping of the new bakery was masterminded by projects director Christien Jones, the brother of managing director Robin Jones.

He said: “The fire seems like it was a lifetime ago and to be here in this new bakery with the same team, along with some new teammates, is just phenomenal.

“We started with a green field just 17 months ago but it’s been made possible by the guys we’ve got and their unwavering commitment to the project.

“The fact that the bakery is now up and running and making bread rolls fills me and the team with an immense feeling of pride.

“It’s been an incredible effort from day one because they rose to the challenge magnificently. They have been heroic.

“We switched production of bread rolls to our bakery in Minera and we were baking them that evening and we delivered in full to our customers the following day.

“This is a next generation bakery. Because we started with a blank canvas, we have really pushed the boundaries. What we have here is the future of baking and we will be leading the market in the UK for some time to come. Essentially, we have future-proofed ourselves."

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He added: “We have created an environment that is fantastic to work in. The bakery is climate controlled and the production line is incredibly quiet. There is no heavy manual lifting and we have used soft lighting that is kinder on the eye.

“We purify all the air coming into the building, we HEPA filter all our air so it also helps our products’ shelf life. In the hotter areas where the ovens are, we ventilate so it doesn’t get overly hot."

He added: “On this site everything is bigger and better and we’re training more people to enable us to continue on our growth trajectory.”

The day of the fire is forever seared on the memory of shift manager Leighton Howells, who’s been working for the Village Bakery for 16 years after starting out as an apprentice at the age of 17. He was driving in to work to start his shift at 10am when he heard about the incident on the radio.

Leighton said: “To begin with there was a feeling of disbelief but then we banded together to see what we could do to help.

“We switched production to our bakery in Minera that night and two years later we have got our reward by moving here to the new bakery which is absolutely amazing. I am really proud of the team – they’re a great bunch of guys.”

It was also a proud day for Ashley Dawson, 30, who was appointed manager of the new flagship bakery six years after joining the family firm as its business sustainability and improvement executive and rising swiftly through the ranks.

He said: “I feel honoured and privileged to be the captain of the ship so to speak. This is the most modern, high-spec bakery in the UK if not Europe and everything here is to the highest possible standard so we can make the best products on the market.

“We’re industry leaders in pretty much everything that we do and that’s down to our constant quest to keeping on improving quality. We always want to make things better and this new bakery allows us to do that.

“We have got so much room for growth here and it’s such an exciting time to be part of the Village Bakery success story.”

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