Workers reeling as family firm in limbo

Woodheads Bakers North Marine Road store 111332d
Woodheads Bakers North Marine Road store 111332d
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administrators have been called in to take over Scarborough’s Woodhead the Bakers with the loss of 30 jobs so far.

Administrators have been called in to take over Scarborough’s Woodhead the Bakers with the loss of 30 jobs so far.

After 74 years the future of the family-run firm now hangs in the balance as administrators seek a buyer for the company.

The redundancies are based at the firm’s Scarborough factory in Beaconsfield Street, which supplies 30 Woodhead shops in the North including the eight stores in Scarborough.

Branches can also be found in York, Hull, Beverley and Malton, with the company also supplying national supermarket chain Morrisons.

The company still has 280 staff.

Woodheads Bakers under administration.'Woodheads Shops... Westborough.'111332g. Pic Kevin Allen. '30/03/11.

Woodheads Bakers under administration.'Woodheads Shops... Westborough.'111332g. Pic Kevin Allen. '30/03/11.

Rises in wheat prices and tough conditions on the high street have been blamed for the demise of the popular local company.

Christopher White, of the Sheffield based P&A Partnership who has been appointed joint administrator, said it will carry on trading the business with the hope of finding a buyer.

He said: “We believe that by continuing to trade we have the best chance of finding a buyer and we have retained as many employees as we possibly can.

“Unfortunately, Woodhead Bakery has been hit by inflation and the impact of rising global wheat prices, in addition to harsh economic conditions on the High Street.”

The 30 employees were told they were losing their jobs at the end of their shifts and via telephone calls on Tuesday evening.

All staff were called to a meeting at the Beaconsfield Street headquarters yesterday morning with directors and administrators, where those facing the axe were told they won’t be paid to date and will have to apply to the Redundancies Payments Office.

The meeting was attended by company director Colin Woodhead, who took over the bakery with his brother Stewart from their father Harold.

He is said to have shed a tear as he shared the bad news with staff.

Following the meeting a group of employees told the Evening News they were not surprised the company was in trouble as they had seen a slowdown in work over recent months.

They said they were angry with how the administrators are handling the takeover, especially as they are not being paid for work they have done.

Staff were sympathetic towards Mr Woodhead. Speaking on behalf of the group Adie Machon and James Prathero said: “We cannot blame Colin for what has happened. He put his heart and soul into that business and was on the shop floor working as hard as the rest of us to keep the company going.

“He has given us all good references and was in that meeting himself to tell us what was happening. He was obviously a broken man, and we really appreciate that he had the courage to be there himself to tell us.”

Union representatives are working with the staff affected and say they will be putting in claims for unfair dismissal and lack of consultation with the union.

Tony Randerson, regional officer of Unite who is working alongside the Bakers Union, said: “Apparently there has been some interest shown in the company so that is early good news.

“I have great concerns though that it was left until the last minute over the way that the employees were informed at the end of their shift and at the same time that they aren’t getting paid.

“It could take up to eight weeks to get their money from the Redundancy Payments Office, which will be very challenging for them financially.

“This is a long-standing family firm who have given employment for many years in Scarborough and that should not be forgotten. It is a sad end for them. But we are where we are. It is extremely sad and distressing for the individuals that have been caught up in this.”