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VILLAGE BAKERY (Wrexham)

Origins

The directors were aware of a gap in the market to produce craft bakery products on a scale that the major retailers would require, in an environment that would exceed the highest demands of hygiene and lean manufacturing. As a family of bakers with a wide skill set and a deep knowledge of the industry, they embarked on creating recipes and products with provenance with novel ingredients to improve their appeal to the major retailers. This has helped to gain a clear competitive advantage over competitors. By developing a very streamlined production process, with great flexibility and short change over times, Village Bakery is able to get volume through the plant with the minimum amount of labour. It adds value to products by hand finishing various products on line thus maintaining its craft appeal. The challenges faced were very similar to many other manufacturing businesses namely a shortage of skills locally and finding suitable suppliers of local ingredients. Managing the growth has its own difficulties and the firm has invested in a stronger management team and technical team to satisfy the most demanding of retailers.

Success Factor

One of the key factors has been the ability to react to customers’ needs in a timely manner by listening to what they want and then delivering them a timely and quality service. By forming such a close and trusted relationship with major customers, the Village Bakery has been able to grow at a much faster rate. The business has a very flat management structure and the directors are fully involved. As a result, its decision making process can be hours rather than weeks compared to competitors. The firm has a commitment to react to its customers’ needs in a very timely manner and is seen as a supplier who listens to customers’ needs and then finds a timely solution to satisfy these needs. It has invested in the very best equipment and processes, in a very clean and food safe environment and, most importantly of all, understands baking and the craft of making quality products in volume combined with provenance, skills and great service.

The Future

Village Bakery has just embarked on building a baking academy and new product development centre at the front of the Wrexham site. This 30,000 sq. ft. building over four storeys will ensure that it can train future generations of staff to fulfil their customers’ needs. This will be finished in January 2015 and will give the company world class leading product development facilities that will be used to create new ranges of morning goods and bread products. Without a trained workforce and full pipeline of product development, the firm will not be able to succeed with its future plans. In July 2014, sixteen acres of land was purchased on the Wrexham Industrial Estate with a plan to build a new bakery of 200,000 sq. ft. by 2016. This will allow Village Bakery to achieve its ambitions of growing its business to over £65million in the next five years.