July 13, 2024

Being honoured by King Charles is flipping marvellous, says bakery pioneer Alan

Village Bakery; Alan Jones. Picture Mandy Jones

A trailblazing bakery industry pioneer has been honoured with an MBE.

Alan Jones, 79, transformed a back street bakery with five staff into the multi-award winning Jones Village Bakery that now employs 800 people and has a turnover of more than £80 million.

Now retired, two of his three sons are now at the helm, Robin as managing director and Christien as project director, as the Wrexham-based family firm goes from strength to strength.

According to Mr Jones, it was particularly special  be recognised in the King Charles’s first birthday honours list.

He has fond memories of when the King, then Prince of Wales, and Queen Camilla, as Duchess of Cornwall, came to officially open a new bakery in 2015.

The royal couple showed a real deftness of touch in flipping some Welsh Cakes and the King revealed he had a “predilection” for crumpets.

Mr Jones said: “It was a wonderful day and the royal couple were absolutely delightful and full of fun.

“Fast forward a few years and I couldn’t really believe it when I opened the letter informing me about the MBE. I am delighted obviously but really surprised.

“In the early days I would never have dreamed that we would have reached where we are today, with five bakeries in Minera and on Wrexham Industrial Estate..

“It’s not just about me because the staff are fantastic and I have three sons who have worked in the business.

“As well as Robin and Christien, Tim was with us for 25 years but he’s changed direction and now has a successful career in the property industry.

“I also have to pay tribute to my wife, Wendy, who herself came from a family of bakers and without whom none of this would have been possible.”

After leaving school at the age of 15, Mr Jones started out as an apprentice baker at Scott’s Bakery in Netherton, Liverpool, where he gained a City and Guilds qualification and then a National Diploma in baking and confectionery.

Along the way he won  a host of awards for baking and confectionery including a North West Area Technical College award for baking the best Hovis loaf .

He  completed his apprenticeship in 1963 and later worked for Scotts bakery before first joining Cookson’s Bakery in Lytham and then Country Maid in Saltney where he was appointed as bread production manager.

In 1965 he and his father, Harry, bought what became the Village Bakery in Coedpoeth, near Wrexham, from the Edwards Brothers who had established the business 30 years earlier.

Under his  leadership, The Jones Village Bakery consistently won a huge array of industry awards over many years and was rewarded with a trio of Fast Growth 50 awards for their spectacular growth.

In  2018 Mr Jones was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award, at  the Baking Industry Awards, the industry’s Oscars.

Disaster struck in 2019 when a fire destroyed the company’s flagship bakery but they bounced back quickly and built a new 140,000 sq ft bakery, baking academy and headquarters offices that’s four times the size of the building it replaced.

Mr Jones added: “Quite few of the staff there now have been with us for more than 30 years  and the vast majority of our bakery managers and supervisors are homegrown. In this day and age that is something special.

“The policy of growing our own has been fundamental to the success of the Village Bakery because they have bought into the culture. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“I have wound down now over a number of years and handed over the baton to my sons.

“Quality has been at the core of our philosophy from day one. Quality is more important than profit. We need profit of course but if you have quality everything else falls into place. It’s easier to sell quality products.

“We have a lot of loyal customers and we wouldn’t have made the progress that we have unless the quality was there.

“My sons are carrying on with those same principles and I am very proud of them.”