A homegrown high-flyer is hungry for more success after landing his “dream job” running Europe’s most modern bakery.
Ashley Dawson, 30, has been appointed as the manager of The Village Bakery’s new super bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate that’s due to open this summer.
The promotion comes six years after he joined the Village Bakery as their business sustainability and improvement executive when he masterminded a series of energy and water saving initiatives to make the company more environmentally friendly.
Since then Ashley, who comes from Wrexham and is a former pupil of Welsh speaking high school Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, has risen swiftly through the ranks, learning every aspect of production – most recently as manager of the bakery dedicated to making bagels.
His appointment to run the new super bakery comes at an exciting time for the fast-growing family firm.
It was recently announced The Village Bakery has secured an investment deal to fuel major expansion plans which will create 115 new jobs.
The Jones family have retained a majority share in the company and the business is still being run by the original management team, headed by Robin Jones, the managing director, and his brother Christien.
The new chairman is food industry big hitter Andrew Taylor who was part of the team from Limerston Capital, the UK private equity firm that’s invested in the Village Bakery.
Limerston specialise in investing in ambitious, medium-sized businesses and teams to turn them into industry leaders.
The new bakery on Ash Road has been designed and built with growth in mind and at 140,000 sq feet is more than three times the size of the one it’s replacing following a devastating fire in August 2019.
As well as housing the company’s headquarters, the new premises will also be home to their pioneering Baking Academy and Innovation Centre – both twice the size of the original versions – to train a new generation of bakers and develop new products.
Ashley said: “I am incredibly proud and excited to be given this opportunity. It is a massive privilege.
“The new bakery will be awesome. It is going to be jam packed with the best possible equipment which we have sourced from around the world.
“Allied to that we will be using the best ingredients and our skills as craft bakers to make the finest products on the market in the volumes that our growing customer base needs.
“The Village Bakery has a ‘grow-your-own’ tradition of rewarding people who work hard.
“The vast majority of the supervisors and bakery managers started out as apprentices.
“We’ve got a very keen eye for the right type of people, people who are hardworking, who can also work smart and if that’s you, then you’ll do really well here.
“The three bakery managers all started from the bottom and worked their way up. I think that’s the best way you then know the business inside out because you’ve done every single role.”
Another homegrown high-flyer who’s been given a promotion is Florence Roberts, who has been appointed as the Group New Product Development (NPD) Manager.
Florence, or Floss as she’s known, joined the Village Bakery straight from the University of Chester where she graduated with a master’s degree in health and nutrition.
The 29-year-old, who hails originally from Oswestry and now lives near Shrewsbury, worked as an assistant in the NPD when she first came.
Most recently she has been working to develop new products for the company’s gluten-free bakery, Gluten Freedom.
She said: “The main thing about working at the Village Bakery is that you never get bored. It’s fast-paced and every day is different.
“We can make things happen really quickly and our customers love that about us.
“I’m really thankful to the Village Bakery. I don’t think there are many other companies that I could have gone to and progressed to where I am now. I’ve been really well looked after.
“The development of new and exciting products is always a priority here and that is something that sets us apart from our competitors. We’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the market.
“We are raising the bar again with the new bakery and the new NPD centre is fantastic. It’s twice the size of the one it’s replacing, and we are aiming to take things to a whole new level.
“It’s going to be a high-class facility where we can bring customers on site and wow them with our fantastic test bakery and our innovative new products.”
Managing director Robin Jones said: “The great thing about Ash is that he’s seen the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
“He’s a local lad and he’s chosen his career with us and I think we’ve reciprocated by giving him the opportunity and to give him our flagship bakery at the age of 30, that’s tremendous.
“We’re very proud of what he has achieved so far but the best is yet to come when he’s running one of the largest craft bakeries in the UK which will also be one of the most modern in Europe. It’s a huge accolade and that’s down to his grit and determination.
“Floss is the same. I’ve taken great pleasure in watching Floss blossom and develop, from her initial role as a spec writer to an NPD Manager to now Group NPD Manager.
“That’s a fantastic achievement and again, she’s a pleasure to work with, the customers enjoy Floss’s positivity and can-do attitude. All credit to her, she has done an amazing job.
“She’s committed and she has built a great team around her which has enabled her to step up.
“The great thing that Floss has given us is great commercial successes which our customers love.”
Chairman Andrew Taylor added: “The appointments of Ash and Floss to these key roles herald the beginning of an even brighter future for the Village Bakery.
“They have energy, drive and commitment and they are Village Bakery people to their very core.
“Under the fantastic leadership of the Jones family, it has always been a hugely innovative bakery where quality is king.
“They are already renowned for producing the highest quality baked products and they had a clear vision to expand capacity and reach new customers.
“The new investment will provide extra momentum to the growth strategy, creating 115 new jobs and provide a boost to the economy of Wrexham and the wider region.”