Lancashire Life food editor Philippa James visits Halls Bakery in Chorley

PUBLISHED: 13:29 08 September 2011 | UPDATED: 13:30 27 November 2013

Joe Hall with a selection of products

Joe Hall with a selection of products

Food editor Philippa James visits the Chorley pie company aiming to be the upper crust

In an economy that continues to fumble its way forwards it is great to hear of a business that is growing at an astonishing rate. Halls Food Group of Chorley recently won a Bakery Industry Award for customer focus and this years Retailer of the Year prize at the BIBAs (the Be Inspired In Business Awards).

The business was originally opened in 1933 by Joseph Hall and is now run by his grandson, also called Joe. Joe senior spent a year in The Miners Convalescent Home in Blackpool, following a pit accident which prevented him from returning to the colliery. He was given a set of old ovens by a friend, and a recipe a week, and Halls was born with its first shop on Market Street.

Nearly eighty years on, the company is still supplying proper pies to the folk of Chorley, but now much further afield too, with the introduction of delivery vans which carry all manner of home-made consumables to work places far and wide.

When I first visited the bakery I was stunned at the hands on nature of the pie making more than 15,000 pies are produced every week with every base and lid being hand made although Joe crustdid admit that, as they grow, they now are becoming semi-automated.

As well as quality products and keen prices, Joe puts his success down to using locally sourced ingredients and knowing the provenance of them, including Bowland butter and Procters cheeses. Halls Operations Director Peter Gomback said: FDP Fine Foods in Chorley supply us with cooked meats and give brilliant service.

More notably, our relationship with Roy Miller Butchers, which began with Joes grandfather, is excellent and they know exactly what Halls needs.
That Joe, a third generation pie maker, is actually here to be such a success, is a miracle, in its own right. After leaving the Army in the late 1980s aged just 24, Joe suffered a heart attack while he was in the loft at home.

He died at one point, but was resuscitated. Returning to the Army wasnt an option and, having helped in the business as a child, Joe said: The family was good enough to give me another chance, so I started working in our convenience store and in the admin and accounts part of the business.

Joe, who is married to Professor Susan Milner and has two children from his first marriage, has an astute business acumen and is on The Chamber of Commerce mentoring scheme to new businesses if anyone knows how to move a business on in difficult times, its Joe Hall

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