Linwoods bakery closure a 'devastating blow,' says MLA
Around 70 jobs are to go in Co Armagh following the closure of a major bakery business.
Food company Linwoods announced it was shutting its bakery at its headquarters at Monaghan Road in Armagh as demand was declining for its products.
The move follows the closure of its bread van sales business last year, when 90 jobs were lost.
Founder John Woods said he would now focus on Linwoods' health food enterprise, which manufactures products from flaxseed, nuts and berries.
Around 70 staff will be left in the business, which currently employs 140 people.
Mr Woods, also joint managing director of the business, said: "This is a sad day for the company as we let go of one of the cornerstones of our business which has been integral to building the Linwoods brand.
"Our bakery team has worked incredibly hard and we have explored all possible options to avoid these job losses. This decision has not been taken lightly. It follows several efforts to find alternative solutions."
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But he said he hoped some of the jobs could be saved.
"Our priority is to secure as many jobs as we can for the future and to provide support for those impacted by this announcement.
"We will begin a 30-day consultation period during which it is hoped that we can transfer approximately five or more employees across to our health food business.
"We plan to continue to operate the bakery until mid-October."
SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty said the news was a "devastating blow to this community and indeed for the Woods family".
"The Linwoods business has been a key employer in the Madden and Armagh community for generations and our thoughts are with all those who face redundancy.
"I am to meet with the management team in Linwoods in the coming days on the issue and I understand that the company have stressed that every effort has been made to secure the future of this part of their business.
"Unfortunately, with changing consumer trends and an ever more competitive market they could not continue as they were."
He said he hoped that the health foods side of the business would continue to grow.
"In recent years the company has diversified into new streams, including the health food market. For today, however, our thoughts are with those who are set to lose their jobs. Every effort must be made by the Department of the Economy, local enterprise agencies and the council to support those impacted in the weeks and months ahead."