A VISIT to Brace’s Bread was a trip down memory lane for Nick Smith MP, a former employee of the company.
As a child Mr Smith helped his delivery-man father on his rounds by collecting money from local shopkeepers, before later working shifts manning the ovens as a teenager.
The MP for Blaenau Gwent visited the bakery – located at Croespenmaen Industrial Estate on the outskirts of his constituency – to catch up with management and speak to staff.
Mr Smith said: “Walking on to the bakery floor, the smells and sounds immediately transported me back to my days at the old Oakdale site. Although the technology has moved on a lot, the process was still pretty close to how I remembered it.”
He added: “Brace’s is a great local company. I was especially pleased when, during the peak of the pandemic, they gladly agreed to my request to help out by supplying our local food banks with bread. I know that their deliveries made a big difference to people in Blaenau Gwent and I wanted to thank them for that.”
Speaking with Brace’s management, Mr Smith heard about how the biggest challenge facing the industry at present is the war in Ukraine, the country known as “the breadbasket of Europe” due to its wheat and oil exports.
Mr Smith also spoke to staff about the cost-of-living crisis currently gripping the country.
He said: “I spoke to a staff member from Brynmawr who told me he earns a good wage and loves his job at Brace’s, but was still feeling the pinch due to soaring energy costs.
“It demonstrates that this crisis is affecting everyone, and even those in skilled, well-paid jobs are having to tighten their belts.”
Mr Smith thanked Brace’s for inviting him to visit their headquarters, saying: “I have very fond memories of working for Brace’s and learned a strong work ethic by getting up at 5am to pull those hot tins from the ovens.
“I’m glad that the company is still thriving, still embracing local connections and providing people in the valleys with good, well-paid jobs.”