Euro students help Plymouth pasty firm earn a crust

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor/Plymouth Herald



Susie Heath, Katie Rogers, Allan Trundle and Cassie Loram-Martin at Friary Mill bakery


WHAT better experience for an international student on work placement in Plymouth than to learn how to make a pasty?

The city’s successful Friary Mill bakery has been hosting European learners on work placements, teaching them the bakery business including how to crimp and create a crust.

“We’ve been taking placements from Tellus College for six years now,” said Allan Trundle, production director at Friary Mill. “It’s about giving them experience, and it’s a two-way street; it also benefits us.

“And at the end of their time with us we ask them to make something from their own country.”

That could be a delicacy from Italy, or Spain, or France, Sweden, Poland or Portugal – Friary Mill has had student placements from all these countries.

The bakery, which has its main base at Cattedown and in 2013 celebrated 25 years in business, has been taking European students on work placements from Mutley Plain-based Tellus College for the past six years.

The students, mostly aged between 19 and 22, are leaning under the 14.7billion-euro European Union-funded Erasmus+ programme.

Each year a dozen students, anything from one to four at a time, spend between four and six weeks at the bakery.

They learn about confectionery, pastries, savouries and bread and morning goods.

They also have a full induction, learning about health and hygiene.

“They all work in production, and become part of everything,” Mr Trundle said. “We make everything from scratch here, so they learn from the grassroots up.

“We’ve had some excellent students who really want to learn – and the ones who are the best are the ones who speak the best English. It’s a way for us also to give something back, so people can grow.”

The Friary Mill empire was born at a small shop and bakery in Gasking Street in 1988.

Today, the chain has 130 staff working in 13 retail outlets across Plymouth, three of which also have cafes.

Forty of those workers are at the main Cattedown site, with 70 working in the shops.

The firm also owns three retail vans, and has a wholesale function.

In total the company makes more than 100,000 savoury products – that includes pasties, sausage rolls and meat pies – every month.

“It’s a good little company,” said Mr Trundle. “I’ve worked here in my current capacity for 10 years and we have doubled in that time – that’s in turnover and in the number of shops.”

The firm was founded by Karen Milner and Philip Gardner, who are still directors today.

It relocated its HQ to Cattedown in 1999, and was recognised at the National Supreme Product Championship, in Birmingham, in 2010.

Friary Mill also won the Savoury Snack Award at the Baking Industry Awards in 2000.

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