The Co. Armagh business has today informed employees of its intention to close its bakery.
This was following an ongoing review of its business model and in response to a significant and long-term decline in market demand which has resulted in bakery margins being severely depressed.
As a result, the workforce at Linwoods’ Monaghan Road headquarters in Armagh will be reduced by approximately 70 full-time employees.
The company has 140 full-time employees in Northern Ireland and operates across two sites in County Armagh.
Linwoods is a family 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.
Linwoods Health Foods will not be affected by today’s announcement.
John Woods, joint managing director at Linwoods, 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.
“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.
“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 news as devastating.
“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.”
Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan added: “Linwoods currently employs 140 people across a number of sites, they have been a major employer in this area for some years.
“This is very difficult news for the many employees and their families affected by this announcement and that is where our thoughts and focus should be on at this present minute.
“It is important to now ensure those who are laid off are given every support to maximise their retraining and ability to get new employment.”