One of Wigan borough’s oldest businesses is set to close a quarter of its branches, putting jobs at risk in its stores and factory.
A total of 11 of Waterfield’s bakeries are said to be facing the axe, with a consultation with staff to take place soon.
The 90-year-old family-run business currently has 45 stores, man in Warrington and Leigh where it also operates its main bakery on Manchester Road.
The bakery is one of the largest employers in the local area, with its website proudly stating: “A large percentage of the workforce has been with us many years.”
Approximately 650 people work for the company, but it is unclear how many jobs will be lost.
Richard Waterfield, chairman of the company started by his grandparents, briefed staff on the situation before announcing the news to the wider public. It has not been disclosed which stores are earmarked for closure.
He said: “The business has been experiencing challenging market conditions which has adversely impacted on the peformance of certain stores and the business as a whole. The proposed restructuring of our operations will enable us to make the necessary changes to return the company to profitability.”
A lack of any official union representation adds to the already uncertain situation for any staff facing redundancy over the festive period.
Waterfield’s makes significant contributions to local charities, such as Wigan and Leigh Hospice, although it is not yet known if the company plans to scale back its charitable donations too. The first bakery was established in 1926 in Leigh by Alice Waterfield. In 2009 it acquired eight more shops when it purchased the Pimblett’s chain.
Richard Waterfield is also chair of the Wigan Forward Board, a public-private partnership designed to promote the local economy.
A creditors meeting is set to take place on December 20.