Ready to roll….Derbyshire MP visits Luke Evans Bakery following investment

East Midlands bakery Luke Evans has invested £75,000 in new equipment which will allow it to produce up to 9,000 bread rolls per hour. The new machine gives the Derbyshire family run bakery an extra 50% capacity for roll making and has been purchased in response to increased demand.

Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills recently toured the bakery at Riddings, near Alfreton, to find out more about one of the oldest family run bakeries in the country and to meet some of the 50-strong workforce at Luke Evans, which was founded more than 200 years ago.

Managing director David Yates said: “We gave him a full tour of the bakery, where he was able to talk to the bakers, and see what was involved. We were busy with the bread production, and he watched and asked questions about the various different processes and types of breads the bakers were making. “It gave us the chance to highlight our latest investment – an Oddy Novatek roll plant which has replaced the Original Oddy we first purchased 22 years ago. The machines, manufactured just outside Leeds, are known in the industry for their incredible strength and durability, and even though it’s 22 years old, I have had numerous customers trying to buy my retired machine. “The new equipment is very similar in its design to the original one, but has been upgraded from a two-pocket to a three-pocket machine. This gives us the capacity to produce up to 9,000 bread rolls per hour. The other big advantage is that this new machine will mould all sizes of finger rolls which gives us greater consistency and is less labour intensive. Previously we hand rolled all of our finger rolls. “I’m also pleased to be able to buy British, as there is very little bakery machinery still manufactured in the UK.”

Luke Evans sells direct to the public from its shop in Greenhill Lane, Riddings, as well as supplying around 300 trade and wholesale customers across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, including shops, cafés, schools, and delis. Fully trained craft bakers operate 24 hours a day turning out breads, cakes and savoury products from farmhouse loaves and bread rolls to fresh cream éclairs and iced buns.

The company, founded in 1804 by Henry Evans who named it after his brother Luke, has also recently appointed a new management structure. “We are very excited because we have been able to promote largely from our own team,” said Operations Director, Helen Yates. “Jon Booth, our new bakery manager and Paul Booth, our new night shift assistant manager, have both been with us since joining our delivery team straight from school. Phil Knowles has remained in the role of bakery night shift manager and Nick Woodcock, our only external recruit, brings fresh ideas from his previous role at Morrisons, to his new role as assistant manager.”

A forward-thinking business, while still being loyal to its 200-year-old heritage, the team is passionate about supporting the future of the craft-baking industry.

Luke Evans Bakery operations director Helen Yates has been involved, along with other craft and plant bakeries across the country, in developing Trailblazer Apprenticeships for the bakery industry alongside the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink.

Speaking of his visit, Conservative MP Nigel Mills said: “I was delighted to recently visit Luke Evans at their base in Riddings to meet the team and see the various production stages of their high quality handmade products. Family run businesses like this are the heart of our economy, and Luke Evans is a great example of a fantastic local employer. Having seen their new machinery and tasted their outstanding products, I have no doubt they will continue to thrive and develop.’’

During the course of the visit, David and Helen Yates discussed with him their views on supporting local and small businesses, and how they encourage customers and stockists alike to support local producers.

“We were very pleased to host a visit from our MP Nigel Mills, as it gave us the chance to demonstrate what goes on at one of the region’s oldest family run craft bakeries in the East Midlands at a time when Luke Evans is continuing to invest and develop,” added David Yates.

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