It was a little bit of icing on top of the cake for centenary-celebrating Jenkins Bakery to welcome a VIP visitor to its HQ in Trostre, Llanelli.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford found time in his busy schedule to tour the factory and enjoy a cup of tea and Welsh cakes with executives at one of longest-established family businesses in South Wales.
The First Minister toured the production units and also cut a special Jenkins Bakery centenary cake.
“It was great to see the First Minister pay us a visit,” said company secretary David Jenkins.
“The continuing pandemic disrupted many of our plans to celebrate our 100th anniversary as a business.
“But we were delighted to welcome the First Minister and Llanelli MS Lee Waters.
“The First Minister was already familiar with the Jenkins Bakery name and brand. As a youngster, he regularly travelled to Llanelli from his hometown of Carmarthen.
“He was very interested to learn how we have had to make changes to the business during the pandemic. And he was fulsome in his praise for both the business itself and our staff.”
Jenkins Bakery operations director Russell Jenkins said: “Our 100th year has been one of the most challenging years in the history of the business.
“But we continue to do what we have always done – we pride ourselves on our family heritage and family values.
“Our staff are famous for their loyalty, with many being recognised for their long service with the company.
“And, of course, we must pay tribute to our suppliers and our customers. Our customers have been loyal for 100 years and they continue to support us as we move on to an exciting future.”
First Minister Mr Drakeford said during his visit: “It’s been a great pleasure to be here this afternoon in Jenkins Bakery – an institution of course here in the west of Wales – and to see what lies behind the fantastic displays you see if you visit one of the Jenkins shops.
“It’s wonderful to hear that the business has been going for 100 years already.
“So congratulations to everybody who has been involved in the first 100 years and we look forward to an equally successful century to come.”
Llanelli MS Lee Waters, a self-confessed Jenkins custard slice fan, said: “It’s a great thrill to come and see where the magic happens.
“Everyone has their favourite bit of Jenkins produce, be it the minced beef pie or the sausage roll, or my own personal favourite, the custard slice.
“I’m a huge fan of the business. It’s a local institution and a local brand.
“It’s been a tough time for everybody during the pandemic, but it’s great to see Jenkins bouncing back and thriving and I wish them well for the second 100 years.”
Just a few days after his visit, the First Minister told the Senedd about his visit to the Jenkins Bakery.
He told members of the Senedd: “It’s a firm established exactly 100 years ago this year – and it was very heartening to hear from the company of the way in which, despite the very real challenges which they faced at the height of the pandemic and the difficult decisions they’d had to make to keep the business afloat, how by now they were reinvesting, rehiring, making a future for that business so that it will last well into the next century.
“And that is a tribute to the amazing persistence of the people who run the company and the people who work for it.
“I am quite sure that is emblematic of the way that so many small businesses in Wales have worked to keep going and find a future despite the astonishing challenges we have all had to face.”
The Jenkins Bakery has 27 shops across South Wales, from Bridgend and Porthcawl in the east to Ystradgynlais in the north and Carmarthen in the west.
The company, which employs nearly 255 full and part-time workers, was established in 1921 as a local family business in New Dock Road, Llanelli. The business has now been passed down to the third generation, Russell and David Jenkins.
What our VIPs said about the Jenkins Bakery . . . see video links