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Fast-growing North Wales bakery kneads 20 new apprentices

Village Bakery Apprentices; Tilly Squire with Tom Breeze and Jac Griffiths. Picture Mandy Jones

A TRIO of rising stars are spearheading a search for a new generation of bakers in North Wales.

Managers Tom Breeze, 35, and Jac Griffiths, 29, along with trainee product developer Tilly Squire, 18, are the faces of the campaign to take on 20 apprentices at the fast-growing Jones Village Bakery in Wrexham.

Their photos are featured on recruitment banners outside family firm’s bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate and up the road in Minera.

The company, which now employs more than 800 people, has traditionally had a grow-your-own policy and most of its bakery managers and supervisors joined as school leavers and climbed the career ladder.

It’s a recipe for success that has seen the award-winning company continue to expand at a rapid rate.

As well as having a bulging order book from UK customers, exports are also playing an increasingly important role with growing markets in France and Germany.

They have also landed a deal to supply a major Australian wholesale and distribution company with three types of American-style pancakes – buttermilk, blueberry and lemon flavours – in a move that created 20 new jobs.

According to Jones Village Bakery Managing Director Robin Jones, recruiting the next generation of bakers is the perfect way to celebrate their 90th birthday this year.

Tom Breeze, manager of the “mothership” bakery in Minera, started as a 16 year old straight from school.

Initially, it was only meant to be a summer job but he soon got a taste for the bakery business.

He said, “I never ever dreamed I would achieve what I have when I first started but I have been on a journey with the company and grown with them.

“The secret of our success is that we invest in people and we promote within and we are now trying to find the next batch of talented bakers.

“Having had the benefit of a brilliant apprenticeship, I want to see others follow in my footsteps and it’s rewarding for me to see people progress and reach their full potential.”

Jac Griffiths is another homegrown success story and is now the manager of the company’s flagship 140,000 sq ft bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

He started out as an 18-year-old production operative making the company’s signature bread rolls and says that becoming an apprentice put rocket boosters under his career.

Jac’s now embarked on business management degree on a part-time, three-year course at Wrexham University, paid for by the company.

Jac commented, “I’m pretty young to be running such a big bakery but the company’s mantra is that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

“The support and the training you get is second and age is not a limiting factor. If you show the right attitude there a lots of opportunities to climb the career ladder.

“There’s been a massive growth in the last four or five years and the only way you can do that sustainably and successfully is by having a crop of talent that’s able to rise up the ranks.

“We are looking to provide different careers for people and the apprenticeship route is a fantastic way to earn while you learn.

Jac added, “I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far and, from my family’s point of view, I’m the first person that’s ever been to university and these guys made that happen and I’m very thankful for it.”

Equally grateful for the opportunities she’s been given is Tilly Squire who joined the company nearly three years ago, aged 16.

Tilly commented, “From day one, I was treated like an adult and paid like an adult thanks to the company’s equal pay for young workers scheme and everyone is very friendly here.

“Since then, I’ve had some amazing experiences and opportunities, learning craft bakery skills working in different bakeries, making different products.

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“My hard work was rewarded with a place on the bakery’s brilliant apprenticeship scheme which led to my current role as part of the New Product Development team.

“I really enjoy the hands on approach, learning about the science and art of baking while we develop and perfect fantastic new products.”

Village Bakery Apprentices; Tilly Squire. Picture Mandy Jones

Tilly is a great role model for any budding bakers, according to Jason Page, the company’s HR manager.

Jason told The Herald, “Having the right attitude is far more important than a string of qualifications on a certificate. “We can teach the necessary skills so we are looking for people who want to learn and are passionate about what they do. “It’s a very exciting period for the Village Bakery and in terms of career development, the sky’s the limit.”

Managing director Robin Jones said, “We’re Europe’s fastest growing bakery and we’re not just looking for budding bakers.

“There are opportunities right across the company – we also need engineers as well as people to work in the commercial and finance departments. There is a mass of opportunity here for the right people.

“If we find the right candidates, we can take them on the same journey as Jac, Tom and Tilly who are living proof of what we’re all about – we are looking for more people like them to follow in their footsteps.”

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