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Last-gasp repreive for bakery

PUBLISHED: 15:06 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:04 08 July 2010

An award-winning bakery in Watton has been saved from closure thanks to a last minute takeover.

Christine's Country Bakery in the High Street was named Baker of the Year in the EDP Norfolk Food Awards but owners Christine and Roger Yexley had already decided to shut at the end of last week.

An award-winning bakery in Watton has been saved from closure thanks to a last minute takeover.

Christine's Country Bakery in the High Street was named Baker of the Year in the EDP Norfolk Food Awards but owners Christine and Roger Yexley had already decided to shut at the end of last week.

But just hours after the news was reported it emerged that another Norfolk bakery had stepped in to ensure the people of Watton will still be able to buy their daily bread.

David and Lorraine Langchild have bought the business to expand their chain of Bake House bakeries but said that all the seven staff would remain and they would carry on the same style of traditional baking.

“We are a craft bakery just like Christine's,” said Mrs Langchild. “Everything is made by hand, not by machines and there is a full-time baker on site.”

Bake House already has shops in Diss, Harleston, Eye and Fakenham and the Langchild's have ensured that the business remains very much a family concern. Their business partners are Paul and Wendy Muncilla who are also from a bakery background and the four divide their time between the shops.

“We were not planning to expand but we are a market town business and we could not bear to think of another bakery going,” said Mrs Langchild. “We think it is very important for towns to have a community and have independent shops. We use products from local producers so we benefit the whole community and are passionate about not putting any additives in and using quality ingredients. We have lost some business to the supermarkets over the years but people need to realise that in a bakery you are getting real bread, not full of water, preservatives and emulsifiers. Our bread is good for you and we put time and effort into making it.”

The new buyer also gets the Christine seal of approval and the Yexleys are very pleased to hand over the reins to a bakery with the same ideals as theirs.

Mrs Yexley said they had been trying to find a buyer for two years without success. She said: “We won the EDP award this year and Bake House won it last year so we are keeping excellent facilities and bakery skills in Watton which is important to us. We have worked hard for 22 years and our objective was always to keep a bakery in Watton and keep the staff employed so we were very fortunate that the right people came through at the last minute.

“Roger had been working in bakeries since he left school at the age of 14. He always started here at 2am for the first customers at 7am and then I would be working later until the shop shut. That was our choice but the time came when we had to retire and we are looking forward to spending some time together.”

The shop officially became Bake House on Monday and will keep the same opening hours Monday to Saturday.

Mrs Langchild added: “We wish Roger and Christine all the best for a happy retirement and we are looking forward to getting to know all our customers.”

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