THIS is the heart-warming moment a departing boss of Marks and Spencer was given a stirring send off at a Wrexham bakery by a choir singing 'Bread of Heaven'.

The visit by chief executive Steve Rowe to the Jones Village Bakery’s headquarters on Wrexham Industrial Estate was his last official call before stepping down from the helm.

It was also a touching occasion for two members of the 50-strong Rhos Male Voice Choir, firefighters Paul Scott and Tim Williams.

On August 19, 2019, they were part of the crew from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service who were called to tackle a devastating blaze that destroyed the family firm’s flagship bakery.

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Fast forward nearly three years and the choir was performing in the lobby of the replacement bakery which at 140,000 sq ft is four times the size of the original.

The Jones Village Bakery has invested £16 million in installing a state-of-the-art production line to make a new range of sourdough bread for M&S in a move that will ultimately create100 new jobs.

As Steve Rowe arrived through the door, the choir burst into a rousing rendition of Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer, with the famous Bread of Heaven chorus and set to the anthemic hymn tune, Cwm Rhondda.

He said: “That’s probably the finest welcome I’ve had in a factory ever in my 40 years of retail.

“I’ve never actually seen a male voice Welsh choir live before and that tone of music, the sound, the power of the sound was fantastic.

“Bread of Heaven was absolutely appropriate for what I believe is one of the finest bakeries in the world.

“The reason I think this bakery is so special is that it has all of the values that I believe Marks and Spencer have.

“To come back to this factory after what was a terrible fire back in 2019, to see the level of investment that’s been put in to create a world class facility with fantastic products is a great way to finish my time with M&S.

“We’re growing our food business substantially and we want the Village Bakery to be a major part of that."

The Leader: Steve Rowe with Robin and Christien Jones of the Jones Village BakerySteve Rowe with Robin and Christien Jones of the Jones Village Bakery


The occasion was in stark contrast to the previous visit to the Jones Village Bakery by Paul Scott and Tim Williams when fire ripped through the old bakery.

According to the firm, the most important thing was that everybody evacuated the building unhurt which meant they were able to turn their attention immediately to a recovery plan.

The result is the new complex which also includes a new Baking Academy and Innovation Centre – both twice the size of the previous ones – as well as a new office complex.

Paul, the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s area manager, was the incident commander on the day of the blaze.

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He said: “It was an absolutely devastating fire which was through the roof upon arrival.

“I seem to recall we had about 10 fire fighting appliances, three ariel appliances and other specialist vehicles, which is a considerable deployment for a fire service our size.

“Nearly three years on and it’s great to be at the new site. It’s the first time I’ve been here and it’s fantastic to see what they’ve done.

“They’ve literally risen from the ashes and have shown great resilience to bounce back. It’s nice to be here today on the other side and celebrating their success.”