Greggs Rise to the Challenge

Posted by editor on September 29, 2009 under Business, training and employment

With their new factory now officially open, Greggs the Bakers renew their commitment to east Manchester

Greggs Bakery now open in Openshaw

Greggs Bakery now open in Openshaw

In a collection of old industrial buildings next to the Ashton Canal, Greggs had been making bread and confectionery in east Manchester for more than half a century. Countless loaves, rolls, cakes and doughnuts have been dispatched from their Parrot Street factory in Clayton in the last 50-odd years.

Kevin Noden: "Everything is better about the new place."

Kevin Noden: "Everything is better about the new place."

It should be no surprise, then, that when the bakers decided to expand, New East Manchester (with the North West Development Agency and Manchester City Council) put together a package to encourage them to stay in the area.

Now, with their brand new factory officially opened today [28th September], the master bakers are ready to show off their state-of-the-art facilities to the throng of TV and radio crews, journalists and photographers who have descended on Greenside Street in Openshaw.

Susan Duffy: "I love it!"

Susan Duffy: "I love it!"

“It’s so much better here,” says Susan Duffy from Beswick who has been pulled off her cake-making duties to feature in the official photocall, “the place is just brilliant. I love it!” When she left school over 12 years ago, Susan started work for Greggs at their Beswick precinct shop. “After two years there, I fancied a change,” she says, “so I moved to the Clayton factory. First I was on dispatch and now I’m on cakes..”

She’s not the only one happy in her work. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” says one man in dispatch. “It’s one big happy family,” says the lady dipping buns into icing.

Bakery manager, Peter Birch, confirms there’s a very positive attitude amongst the staff which has only improved since their move to Openshaw. “We’ve always had an exceptionally low staff turnover,” he says. “We’ve had one employee retire recently after clocking up nearly 50 years service.”

Dispatch is now electronically controlled

Greggs in east Manchester supplies nearly 150 shops across the North West

Peter himself is a relative newcomer, “I’ve only been with the company for nine months. My first job when I arrived was to facilitate the changeover from the old to the new factory.”

It’s been a gradual process. The new factory was originally occupied in February and then, over a three month period, more and more of the production has moved to the new site.

“Logistically it’s been quite a challenge,” admits Peter, “there’s been a lot of day-to-day planning involved. At one point, we had the vans picking up some lines from the old factory and then different lines over here, but all our 150 shops continued to get the goods their customers needed.”

Greggs in east Manchester supplies nearly 150 shops across the North West

Dispatch is now electronically controlled

New ovens have been installed and existing ones refurbished so the factory has the capacity to increase the number of stores it supplies. Currently one of 10 national divisions, Greggs in east Manchester services shops as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent, Blackpool and across to the Yorkshire border.

“We could easily supply another 70 shops from this factory,” continues Peter, “and, looking to the future, there is adjacent land here we could expand onto.” Which all means extra local jobs for east Manchester.

Mary Houlihan: "These 'long tins' are one of our biggest selling lines."

Mary Houlihan: "These 'long tins' are one of our biggest selling lines."

Over on one of the travelling ovens – where the loaf is baked as it sits on a conveyor –is yet another worker full of praise for the new working environment. “It’s been like starting a new job,” says Mary Houlihan, as she stacks the ‘long tin’ loaves, “but you already know everybody!”