A bakery that was destroyed by fire will be rebuilt bigger and better than it was, a company boss has vowed.
Robin Jones, the managing director of the award-winning Village Bakery, revealed plans were underway to replace the state-of-the art production facility on Wrexham Industrial Estate following the devastating blaze four weeks ago.
Architects have already been engaged and they are looking at two possible options, either to rebuild on the original site or on nearby land in Ash Road which they already own and have planning permission for.
In the meantime, production has been ramped up at the family firm’s other three bakeries to maintain supplies to their customers.
Mr Jones paid tribute to the bakery’s staff who had responded magnificently in helping them bounce back from the disaster.
According to Mr Jones, they had been humbled by the genuine outpouring of affection from hundreds of customers who posted touching messages of support on social media.
He was also grateful for the backing of their wholesale customers and their suppliers whose support had been “immediate and unstinting”.
On the day of the fire, their neighbours on the industrial estate had also rallied round with hot and cold drinks and bacon butties, for the Village Bakery staff and the fire service who had responded promptly and been excellent from the word go.
Mr Jones said: “In what was our darkest hour, our brilliant team have come up trumps and showed that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
“We will always be grateful that nobody was hurt. That was the most important thing of all. Unlike buildings, people are irreplaceable.
“We have been amazed at everybody’s ability to go the extra mile to ensure that it is business as usual. It’s been incredible to watch people step up.
“On the night of the fire, the team in Coedpoeth and the shift in Wrexham worked a miracle to ensure we were back in production with M&S bread rolls so we were able to deliver in full on the Tuesday morning.
“Then on the Tuesday night we were back in business making pancakes in Coedpoeth.
“We’re now using every square inch of our remaining bakeries to maximise production.
“It’s clear our wholesale customers have been impressed with our determination to resume production so quickly. We have been honest and open with them from the outset.
“In three weeks’ time, we will be making Welsh cakes and in January we’ll be making scones again with new equipment from Holland.
“We’re moving the crumpet production to the Gluten Freedom bakery where we are creating a new, segregated production line.
“In the meantime, our priority is to ensure that we keep the skilled people we have by redeploying them where necessary because we don’t want to lose them.
“In the aftermath of the fire, it became clear there is a genuine affection toward the Village Bakery from the people who buy and enjoy our products and we have been amazed by the response of the people of Wrexham and North Wales who have sent us so many warm wishes. It just makes us feel humbled by it all really, and it’s just blown us away.
“The business community in Wrexham has also been very generous in its offers of support. We’ve had offers of office accommodation, photocopiers, for air compressors, you name it.
“On the day of the fire the local cafes and neighbours like Bicks Chicks brought down teas, coffees, soft drinks for the fire fighters and for our staff. They also brought bacon butties.
“It’s only when disasters like this happen that you realise how genuine and generous people are. It also underlines what a great place Wrexham is. It’s a big-hearted town.
“Our suppliers have also been amazing. The equipment manufacturers have pulled out all the stops while everybody in the supply chain has just stepped up to the plate, and we are ever so grateful.
“There is a quiet determination here and people have got their heads down, they’re fully focused and there is no time to dwell on what happened because we have a fantastic new bakery to build.
“It’s going to be bigger and better so we can make even better products than we did before.
“We have the full support of our insurance company and the new bakery will be up and running in record time.
“The feedback from our customers has been hugely positive and they have told us that our mitigation plan to overcome this disaster is the best they have ever seen.
“We’ve always said that the people who work for the Village Bakery are the secret ingredient in our success.
“That’s why I am totally confident that we will rise from the ashes and become even stronger and more successful in future.”
It was a sentiment echoed by his father, the company chairman Alan Jones, who said: “In a situation like this you’ve got to look at the positives because that bakery was 10 years old and, whilst the equipment was state-of-the-art at the time, the progress that’s been made since then has been phenomenal.
“We have ordered three new lines which are a big improvement on what we had so there’s no doubt we’ll come out of it stronger and better.
“But you’re only as good as the people who work for you. That will never change and we are blessed with a team of fantastic staff.”
Bakery manager Rob Glover was in work when the fire started.
He said: “The alarms went off and I went to try to extinguish the fire but unfortunately it took hold very quickly.
“We made sure everybody got out because that was our immediate priority and then the fire brigade took over.
“It was very sad but we didn’t dwell on things and we have moved our staff to different bakeries to resume production. We’ve got loads of plans to come back bigger and better than we were before. There’s a real determination here, everybody is up for the challenge.”
Florence Roberts, who works in the new product development department, was in the test kitchen when the alarm went off.
She said: “It was horrific to stand and watch the fire but what amazed me was how quickly thoughts turned to the future and how to get out of this predicament.
“Anybody who knows Robin and his brother Christien, who’s the projects director, knows that’s quite typical of them.
“They’re so forward-thinking all the time and something like this was never going to defeat them.
“Everyone is very loyal and close-knit here so as soon as something like this happens everyone is working twice as hard to make sure we can get back to normality.”