A fast-growing bakery has hired an industry high flyer to turbo charge its ambitious expansion plans.
Passionate foodie Lesley Arnot has been appointed as commercial director at the Jones Village Bakery in Wrexham after moving from the world’s biggest bakery company, Grupo Bimbo.
Her meteoric rise to the top tier of the UK’s food industry began when she was among the first intake on the pioneering graduate scheme at Asda after gaining a classics degree at Newcastle University.
From there she moved to Tesco where she worked for nine years in a number of buying roles and was promoted to category buyer manager before crossing the aisle to work in food production with Grupo Bimbo for seven years.
The Mexican multi-national giant operates in 33 different countries and turns over $15 billion a year globally.
A series of swift promotions saw her becoming head of retail in the UK, responsible for 90 per cent of the company’s sales in Britain where Grupo Bimbo are best known for their New York Bagels.
But she said the opportunity to work with the Jones Village Bakery was one that she could not pass up because of the family firm’s “fantastic reputation” in the food industry.
She was also “incredibly impressed” with the way they had bounced back following a devastating fire in 2019 when their flagship bakery was destroyed.
Fast forward less than two years and the company, led by managing director Robin Jones and his brother, Christien, the projects director, had built a new, state-of-the art bakery that’s four times the size of the one it has replaced.
The 140,000 sq ft complex also includes offices, a new Baking Academy to train the next generation of bakers and a gleaming, ultra-modern New Product Development kitchen – both of which are twice the size of the original versions.
Last year the Jones Village Bakery – which has three bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate and another up the road in Minera – secured extra investment to accelerate its growth plans and create an extra 115 jobs.
Ms Arnot, who hails originally from St Alban’s in Hertfordshire, said: “Working with Robin and Christien and the brilliant team of people we have here is fantastic because they are very passionate about what they do and that’s very infectious. It’s a very exciting business that’s growing at a phenomenal rate. The energy behind that is very attractive.
“The reputation of the Jones Village Bakery is all about quality, absolute excellence and putting their products first and driving innovation through quality.
“What they have done very cleverly is to combine their traditional craft bakery skills and the best possible equipment to make brilliant products in volume. That’s very much driven from the top. They are never satisfied unless they have the very best quality and they are always looking for ways to make their products even better.
“I have very much bought into the vision of the Jones family and their growth agenda and I think we will deliver for the business whilst continuing with our fantastic relationship with our customers, as well as growing and developing our relationship elsewhere in the market with multiple retailers and food service channels.
“The business is agile and dynamic so it can make things happen very quickly and it’s great to be part of a company that wants to move apace and satisfy customers’ needs. It’s really refreshing to be part of that.
“It’s obviously been a difficult journey since the fire but the facilities here are absolutely amazing. The speed with which they have rebuilt the business is really inspirational.
“They have achieved the impossible and have created a world class bakery that’s right at the cutting edge of our industry.
“If you look at the equipment they have put into the bakery, it is absolutely world class. The facilities here are very much something to be proud of. The feedback we get from everybody who comes to visit is that they are blown away and amazed by the quality.
“I am a passionate foodie and if I had to choose one food and one food alone it would be bread and to come here where the bread is just so fantastic is a dream job.”
Managing director Robin Jones was delighted to welcome Lesley Arnot to the company’s senior management team.
He said: “We are really pleased to have Lesley on board. We had a really thorough selection programme and a wide field of exceptionally talented candidates in which Lesley shone as a rising star in the food industry so we are very lucky to have her.
“She has bought into the quality-led ethos of the Jones Village Bakery and she will undoubtedly help turbo charge our ambitious growth plans.
“Lesley has come from the world’s largest bakery and she will help us reach the next level and we are super excited about what we are going to achieve together.
“That’s also going to be great news for the local economy because our success will generate more jobs and prosperity in Wrexham.”