A leading bakery has been flooded with job applications after announcing it was launching a new wheat-free range.
More than 100 people applied for jobs at Wrexham’s Village Bakery within hours of the 16 vacancies being announced.
They will be making wheat-free breads, pizza bases and flatbreads, to be sold by major supermarkets in the UK and across Europe.
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones revealed the huge response, during a visit to the bakery by Wales Office Under Secretary of State Guto Bebb MP.
The family-run firm, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014, now employs around 400 people across three sites in the Wrexham area, with two of them on Wrexham Industrial Estate and the other in nearby Minera.
Robin and his brother Christien, projects director at the bakery, told Mr Bebb about their plans to invest £500,000 to make a new range of wheat-free products.
Aberconwy MP Mr Bebb said: “This is excellent news for the company. Often, when I visit manufacturing companies, they talk about the problems of recruitment, with not enough applicants of the right quality, so I am fascinated by this response to the bakery’s present vacancies.
“It indicates that people believe the Village Bakery is a good company to work for, that’s going places, and that has to be applauded. I live in North Wales and see these products on the shelves, but it is interesting to come and see where they are actually made.
“The new range of products shows the innovation of this company, offering the skills of a craft bakery to major retailers, in a modern guise.”
Mr Bebb added: “The growth of the company has been dramatic, and I am particularly pleased about the Village Bakery’s commitment to local sourcing – for example, they can tell you exactly where the meat for their pies comes from, even from which farm.
“It is a fantastic example of a local business supporting the North Wales economy. It is another success story for North Wales – a home-grown company that’s doing extremely well and winning new markets.
“It shows what can be achieved if you are confident and outward looking. The Village Bakery is an example of a company that has taken risks and gained dividends,” said Mr Bebb, who is also a Government Whip.
He was also shown other Village Bakery products fresh from the ovens, including meat pasties, bread rolls, scones and Welsh cakes.
The traditional delicacies, which use Welsh butter, are sold across the UK, and as far afield as China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Robin Jones said he was heartened by the response to the vacancies in the revamped bakery.
He said: “People now see us a major employer and we don’t take on any agency workers. There’s a real commitment to our permanent staff, and we reward them for their hard work.
“However, we were surprised at the numbers who applied for these new jobs – within a few hours of the news of the vacancies being announced we were inundated with applications from people keen to work with us.
“We are now working our way through these applications but we are happy to hear from anybody else who is interested in joining our workforce.”
The wheat-free range was developed at the Village Bakery’s Innovation Centre which, together with its Bakery School, was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The new staff will form a second shift to support other workers already at the bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate, to meet increased demand.
The bakery, the most modern in Europe when it opened, has been adapted and upgraded, with new equipment installed
The new products will be launched in autumn with major retailers, and includes bread, pizzas, flat breads and other sandwich bases.
Mr Jones added: “We’ve had requests from Ireland and other parts of Europe already. The world’s a huge place and we’ve got a big opportunity so we’re trying to choose the best customers to work with in the short term.
“The potential is massive. The wheat-free market is experiencing phenomenal growth. Every Hollywood A lister wants a wheat free diet. It’s a lifestyle choice now.”