You can be sure there will be plenty of cake when North Wales bakery, Siwgr a Sbeis, celebrates its 30th anniversary this week.
In the three decades since opening a small shop in Llanrwst, Siwgr a Sbeis has become an award-winning and thriving business with a customer base stretching across Wales and beyond.
Owners Rhian Owen and Rhian Williams met at school in the Vale of Clwyd, both had a passion for cooking and continued their studies at bakery college in Wrexham before pursuing careers in catering and hospitality.
But their dream was to run their own business – and in 1989 they took the leap and set up their bakery.
“Initially what we wanted was somewhere to make desserts, and so we opened a small shop in Watling Street in Llanrwst,” explains Rhian Owen.
The name Siwgr a Sbeis (Sugar and Spice) has become synonymous with innovative and quality products which have reaped the business countless awards including Great Taste and True Taste accolades.
“We had lots of fun trying out suitable company names, but we chose Siwgr a Sbeis as it conveys what we actively produce, it is a talking point, and when translated it is very similar.”
With just a staff of three they found it wasn’t long before more space was needed to prepare the bakery’s increasingly popular cakes, bakes and desserts, so they moved to a nearby converted farm building.
Today the bakery is located in a 5,000sq ft, purpose-built and Salsa approved premises on the outskirts of the town. There 15 full-time staff make Siwgr a Sbeis’ mouth-watering, award-winning bakes and desserts.
The decision was taken to close the shop in Watling Street to concentrate on supplying the growing list of hotels, restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores eager to stock the Siwgr a Sbeis range.
“We still use traditional methods though, just on a larger scale, so more people get to enjoy the things we bake.”
Siwgr a Sbeis is part of the Fine Foods Cluster, a business led development programme supported by the Welsh Government and facilitated by Cywain – a Menter a Busnes project whose remit is to grow business through collaboration.
“Being part of the cluster group makes a difference it is important to interact and support other businesses and share everyday experiences. It’s good to catch up with other food producers, to learn how someone else overcame a particular problem, and to see new trends.”
Keen to forge links with other Welsh producers, among the Siwgr a Sbeis sweet and savoury ranges are products made in association with a number of well-known producers including Cwt Caws, Halen Môn, Caws Cenarth, South Caernarfon Creameries, Welsh Lady Preserves, Aberfalls Gin, Toffoc, and Llaeth y Llan.
The Welsh food and drink industry Rhian says has grown tremendously in the last few years. Through the Welsh Government and Menter a Busnes Siwgr a Sbeis has been able to tap into various support and attend important events and trade shows.
“We’ve met so many people over the past 30 years and have also made some really good friends.”
There have been some memorable experiences along the way, such as supplying Harrods with almond meringue mince pies and conducting tasting sessions in its iconic Food Hall; sending luxury Christmas puddings to Australia, and creating a cake for a wedding in France with the decorations hand-painted to replicate the bride’s dress.
Also part of the Siwgr a Sbeis story is the National Eisteddfod, as the bakery was launched the same year that the event was held in Llanrwst. This summer the National Eisteddfod will be returning to the town.
“Attending the various Eisteddfod locations has been one of the highlights of the past 30 years, and we are delighted to be part of it when it comes back to Llanrwst,” says Rhian.
Attending food and drink events is an integral part of the food and drink industry, and next month (March 20th & 21st) Siwgr a Sbeis will be among fellow producers at Blas Cymru/Taste Wales – a national and international trade event and conference, at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.
Meanwhile, the bakery will be in London later this week, setting up stall in the famous Borough Market (February 28th – March 1st) as part of Wales Week in London.
So, after 30 years and countless bakes, do the two Rhians have favourite cakes and desserts?
Says Rhian Owen,
“For Rhian, her favourite cake is a florentine dessert-wise she’d choose salted caramel cheesecake. I do like a scone with either Welsh butter or blackcurrant jam with fresh cream, but I love a coffee choux slice!”