A chain of five shops in North East Wales has been bought by an award-winning firm of family bakers.
The outlets have been snapped up by craft bakers Chatwins from Nantwich, in Cheshire, who are celebrating their centenary this year.
The shops in Wrexham, Rhos, Llangollen, Ruthin and Holywell have been sold by the Wrexham-based Village Bakery to enable them to concentrate on the booming wholesale side of the business.
All 50 of the staff are being kept on by Chatwins and have been reassured their jobs – and their terms and conditions – are safe.
The family-run Village Bakery, which has three bakeries in Wrexham and Minera, was recently named as the fastest growing company in Wales at the Fast Growth 50 awards.
Among the members of staff who’ve transferred to Chatwins is Retail Manager Sharon Cooper.
She said: “The Village Bakery have really looked after us and they made sure we have gone to a very similar craft bakery that is family run.
“It’s really exciting for us as retail shops because Chatwins already had 21 shops of their own. It was a big surprise initially but I’m really excited about it, and the rest of the staff are all happy.”
Managing Director Edward Chatwin is a fourth generation member of the family firm established by his great grandfather John Chatwin in 1913.
The acquisition of the Village Bakery outlets means they now have a total of 26 shops, with the others being in Cheshire and Staffordshire.
He said: “We have known the Jones family at the Village Bakery for a long time and both bakeries have a similar ethos and a real passion for our products, so it was a very good fit.
“The shops are in excellent locations with a good footfall and a strong lunchtime trade.
“This was a great opportunity for us to expand by 20 per cent almost overnight and, whereas the Village Bakery are concentrating their efforts on the wholesale business, we are retail specialists.
“We have had a very positive response from the staff and we are very much looking forward to working with them.
“We’re very well known for our confectionery and our cake products, so that’s an area in which we hope to build on an improve, and hopefully win some more awards.”
Village Bakery Managing Director Robin Jones wrote individually to the affected members of staff.
He said: “Chatwins have exciting plans to build on the success we have already achieved in creating a chain of attractive, well-run outlets.
“Like the Village Bakery, Chatwins are a family run firm of craft bakers and all the existing staff will be kept on with pay and conditions being protected. There will be no job losses.
“The Village Bakery has been growing rapidly in recent years thanks to the continuing expansion of the wholesale market supplying a number of well-known national brands.
“While this is excellent news, it has inevitably meant that as directors we have not been able to devote as much time as we need to developing the retail side of the business.
“The shops and particularly the people who work in them deserve more time and attention than we are able to give at the moment and we felt this was unfair.
“One option would have been to sell the shops separately which would have made sense in strictly commercial terms. However, we deliberately chose to accept the best offer not the highest offer because we felt it was important the five shops were sold together as a going concern to safeguard the future of the staff for whom we have always had a high regard.
“The staff are in good hands. Chatwins are a well-respected firm of bakers who are celebrating their centenary this year – they are in this for the long-term.
“We firmly believe this is a great opportunity for you as members of staff and a great opportunity for Chatwins.”
“One of the main reasons they were so keen to buy the shops was the excellent customer service they witnessed as part of their research – they were blown away by the friendliness of our staff and the rapport you have with the customers.
“Chatwins have all the right credentials to continue to serve the local communities with the same team of staff and, crucially, they will be able to devote the necessary time and attention to the shops.
“As a family, we have known many of the staff for a long time and we are proud of what we have achieved together
“We would sincerely like to thank the staff for all their hard work and loyalty over the years. We are confident they will have an even brighter future with Chatwins.”