More than 60 people lost their jobs yesterday after a popular north-east bakery business went into administration.
Staff at J and I Smiths in Huntly had been completely unaware the business had been in financial trouble until they were informed of their redundancies at lunchtime yesterday.
The owner decided to close all shops in Dufftown, Keith and Huntly, due to the business suffering financially over the past year because of “rising costs”.
Yesterday it was confirmed that all 64 staff working at the bakery business had been made redundant.
A shocked employee, who did not want to be named, told the Press and Journal: “We had no idea until 12.30pm today.
“Today was supposed to be pay day and now they tell us it’ll be six to eight weeks until we get our wages.
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“We heard nothing from management until today.
“We’re all pretty angry at the lack of warning.”
Smiths opened its first base in Dufftown in 1969, and went on to supply major supermarkets and shops across the north-east. It had a meat production site at Whitehills and award-winning pies from the business were also served to supporters watching matches at Fraserburgh Football Club.
George Clark, the chair of Huntly Football Club, said: “It’s a bolt from the blue, and a blow for the town.
“It was a significant employer, and the loss of any organisation whose name is well-known in the town is sad to see.”
Neil Dempsey of Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP was appointed administrator of the firm.
Mr Dempsey, head of Restructuring with Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP, said, “J&I Smith Bakers has been part of the local economy for almost 50 years, but despite various efforts by the directors to turn around the company’s financial position, today’s closure has proven unavoidable.
“The closure of all the company’s sites is terrible news, being one the local area’s most significant employers and we shall be doing our utmost to provide the employees with all of the information and support they need to be able to claim monies due to them from the Government’s Redundancy Payments Service.”
The news comes just a day after Huntly accountancy firm Faith Simpson Accountants went into liquidation, and on the same day that Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett announced he was inviting local businesses in the Huntly area to a summit to discuss ways forward.
No-one from J and I Smiths was available to comment.