'Sadness' for Northern Ireland bakery boss as McErlain's taken over by new family
The son of the founders of McErlain's Bakery has said he's sad that ownership has now passed to another family after trading difficulties forced its sale.
Tayto Group chief executive Paul Allen and his family have invested an undisclosed sum into the Magherafelt business.
Yesterday he became the new owner of the bakery after it went into administration - bringing half a century of ownership by the McErlain family to a close.
The deal - a controversial form of rescue known as a pre-pack administration - has saved 260 jobs at the company, which had suffered trading difficulties.
McErlain's, which has been in business for half a century, produces buns, breads and cakes for a range of supermarket clients. It also manufactured its own products under the Genesis Crafty Brand.
Brian McErlain, the son of McErlain's founders Joe and Roberta, is to remain as managing director following the deal.
He said: "This is obviously a time of mixed emotions - sadness that it is now a different family who own the business, but hope for the future and the growth of the Genesis Crafty brand.
"Paul Allen's ability is very well respected in the business community, not just in Northern Ireland but further afield and I believe that his involvement will be a real benefit to the company.
"I'd like to pay tribute to all our staff, customers and suppliers, who have been through some difficult times with us and whose support we have really appreciated."
Mr Allen, whose tenure at Tayto has coincided with a large number of acquisitions, said: "I'm delighted that the jobs at the factory have been secured and that Brian McErlain will be staying on as managing director.
"I see this as a very sound business with great potential," he added.
He also credited his funders and legal team.
"We have been working closely with Danske Bank and John McMahon's legal team at Keystone Law and their support and expertise has been invaluable," he said.
"I'm now looking forward to seeing the company return to substantial, managed, successful growth and further investment in the future."
Glyn Roberts, the chief executive of Retail NI, said independent traders had been supporters of McErlain's since its early days.
"This is very welcome news. Genesis Crafty is a long standing member of Retail NI and enjoys an excellent relationship with the independent retail sector in Northern Ireland," he said.
"Retail NI members played a important role in supporting the growth of Genesis Crafty.
"I have no doubt that the business will have a very secure future with its new owner."
Last year McErlain's announced it was extending its existing contract with Marks & Spencer, bringing nearly 50 new jobs to the company.
It's understood the rapid pace of the company's growth contributed to its trading difficulties.