Northern Ireland food firm Linwoods to end bakery production with loss of 70 jobs
Northern Ireland firm Linwoods has announced the closure of its bakery division with the loss of around 70 jobs.
The company said that the decision was in response to a significant and long-term decline in market demand which has resulted in bakery margins being "severely depressed".
Linwoods made the decision following an ongoing review of its business model.
As a result, the workforce at Linwoods’ Monaghan Road headquarters in Armagh will be reduced by approximately 70 full time employees.
The company currently has 140 full time employees in Northern Ireland and operates across two sites in Co Armagh.
Linwoods is a family-run business which began 60 years ago as a small grocery shop.
In 2002 the company diversified and added health foods to its bakery and dairy business. Linwoods now exports its health food products across the UK and Europe.
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Linwoods Health Foods will not be affected by the decision.
Joint managing director at Linwoods, John Woods said it was a "sad day for the company" as they "let go of one of the cornerstones of our business which has been integral to building the Linwoods’ brand".
“Our priority is to secure as many jobs as we can for the future and to provide support for those impacted by this announcement," he said.
"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.
“Our health food business is growing and continues to be successful around the world. We are poised to grow this side of Linwoods and we are optimistic about what we can achieve in the years to come.”
SDLP MLA Justin McNulty described the announcement as a "devastating blow" for community and the Woods family.
“I am to meet with the Management Team in Linwood’s 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," he said.
"Unfortunately, with changing consumer trends and an ever more competitive market they could not continue as they were.’
“In recent years the company has diversified into new streams, including the Health Food market and I hope that in the years ahead we will see that end of their business continue to grow and flourish.’
“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.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital