Health foods supplier Linwoods is planning to close its bakery in Armagh.

The family business said long-term decline in market demand had severely reduced its bakery margins, and that it planned to close the operation in October. The bakery produces goods including bread, baps, pancakes, potato bread, sliced wheaten, sodas and fruit loaves. 

As a result, the workforce at Linwoods’ Monaghan Road headquarters will be reduced by around 70 full-time employees. The Linwoods Health Foods business will not be affected.

“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,” said Linwoods joint managing director John Woods.

“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.”

Established 60 years ago as a grocery shop, Linwoods expanded into bakery and dairy and, in 2002, diversified into health foods such as nut and seed-based products. It now exports its health food lines across the UK and Europe.

“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,” said Woods.

The company said its priority was to now secure as many jobs as it could for the future and provide support for those impacted by this announcement. It hoped that five or more employees could be transferred to the health food business.