A leading bakery has become the first company in the UK to pay for all its staff to become members of The Co-op.

As a result, the 450-strong workforce at the Village Bakery will be co-owners and have voting rights at the organisation’s annual meeting.

On top of that they’ll get a five per cent discount on the own-branded products they buy at the Co-op’s stores and a further one per cent will go to a local good cause or community group – each of its stores supports up to three causes, with more than 4,000 good causes supported at any one time across the UK.

The Village Bakery supplies 116 Co-op stores across Wales and the Borders as well as a number of shops in the West Midlands.

Two years ago the family firm – which has two bakeries in Wrexham and one just up the road in Minera – was named by The Co-op as their Best Local Community Supplier.

Since Co-op’s membership scheme was launched last September, around 300 community groups and good causes in Wales have shared almost £500,000. It is aiming to increase its active members to 400,000 by the end of the year.

Area manager Carl Pettersson said: “The Village Bakery is blazing a trail as the first supplier to sign up all its staff as part of the membership scheme.

“We’re absolutely delighted because the Village Bakery is a perfect fit for us.

“We’re both very much community oriented in our focus and the other thing that binds us together is our ethical approach to business.

“The other important point is that they supply us with fantastic products. As well as bread, we sell pies, sausage rolls, crumpets and pikelets amongst other things.

“I’ve got 17 stores in my area and Village Bakery products are featured in all of them, and they go really well.

“It’s good for the Village Bakery but it’s also good for us because they’re popular products, and having 450 new members is also brilliant.

“I think people relate to local products being in the local stores that they shop in. It’s obviously great quality as well so it ticks all of the boxes.

Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “We work very closely with the Coop. They’re a great customer and we like their values which are very much aligned to ours.

“The idea of paying for all our staff to join The Co-op if they want to came from talking to Carl.

“The fact that the contribution from using their card when shopping goes to local community groups and good causes is an excellent idea.

“We bake in the community and we employ local people so we want to do everything we can to support the local community.

“Being able to benefit from the five per cent discount is a also a nice little bonus for our brilliant workforce.”

Carl Pettersson added: “As a community retailer we are committed to championing great Welsh food and drink and making a difference in our local communities.

“The Co-op is moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum, and it is our aim to establish our stores as a local hub and a centre for the community.

“We want shoppers to know that they can become a co-owner and member of their Co-op, and that members have an opportunity to make a difference locally.

“We are thrilled by the move by Village Bakery, and every time their employees swipe their new membership card when they shop with us they are raising much needed funding for organisations in their community who contribute to improving local life.”

For more information go to https://www.coop.co.uk/membership/join-us