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French Village Bakery Expands Catering Division

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French Village Bakery has announced an investment of £850,000, which they will use to expand their catering division.

The investment into the Northern Irish bakers was supported by Danske Bank.

New future plans

The investment will be an important one for the company, allowing them to create ten new food jobs and four positions for new apprentices.

Ashley French, the director at French Village Bakery, said: “We feel there has been a natural progression from when the business supplied sandwiches and catered small events to catering for large corporate events and weddings. With the catering division being located at our bakehouse, we can also use the skill set we have in the bakery to assist with products required for catering events, from fresh bread to wedding cakes. The support of Danske Bank has allowed us to expand our catering kitchen and equip it with top-of-the-range equipment, such as new ovens. We’ve also been able to break into new markets and that has really helped us get a foothold in the larger catering market.”

French then added: On top of this, we’ll continue to further develop our product range and expand the wholesale bakery into new geographical markets. We’re also going to expand the French Village Academy, which is an apprentice scheme for chefs, bakers and logistics and warehouse operatives. Danske Bank has been extremely supportive of our vision and we look forward to working together to further expand the business.”

Support and help

The family-owned business was first opened in 1981. It was then based on Stranmillis Road in Belfast. It had some success as a producer of cakes, buns, and artisan breads. From that stage, however, the company evolved and changed focus to creating higher-quality products. In 2014, the production moved to a new purpose-built bakehouse on Montgomery Road in Belfast. This is the base from which the company has been able to diversify into the catering industry, and it is also the site of the investment.

The company also owns a café bistro on Botanic Avenue and a patisserie and brasserie on Lisburn Road. Additionally, customers can order products or request event catering through their website. They currently serve hotels, cafes, restaurants, and other food retailers in and around the greater Belfast area, where they deliver freshly baked and hand-crafted products six days a week. This ensures the greatest possible quality for the customer.

The founder, Henry French, retired in 2007 – allowing his son, Ashley French, to take the reins.

French pointed out that the new injection of funding will allow the company to grow their range, as well as improving their staff development scheme. This will make them a very attractive prospect for food recruitment, giving potential employees and apprentices the chance to improve their skills and move to a higher position within the industry.

Ian Beatty is the Business Acquisition Manager at Danske Bank. He said: “French Village Bakery is one of the most recognisable names in the hospitality sector. This investment marks a key milestone in the company’s history as it diversifies its product offering into larger corporate events. With a strong management team in place, the business is in a robust position for future growth.”

The partnership will now allow the company to capitalise on that future growth, bringing it into a high probability rather than a mere possibility. With a focus on catering for larger events as well as staff development, they are setting themselves up for a successful model which will bring in more money as well as helping them with staff retention levels.