A West Midlands bakery group has become the first bakery casualty of the banking crisis, after being hit by banks reducing credit.

Firkins Bakery, headquartered in West Bromwich, has laid off 140 staff and shut 20 of its 53 stores. Managing director Ian Bolderston explained that "crippling overheads" of increasing ingredients and energy prices had exacerbated the downturn and the business, in its current form, was no longer viable.

However, Bolderston has been able to buy back 30 stores from the administrators, which will save 200 jobs. The new company will be called Firkins Food Ltd.

Bolderston said in a statement: "We have battled to keep the business afloat and had agreed in principle to additional investment. But when the financial wheels came off the banking system over the last two months, the funding package could not be agreed."

The speed with which the crisis overtook the firm meant some shop staff were only given two hours’ notice of the closure. However staff did say they had become concerned recently, when there were delays over payment.

Outlets closed are in Brierley Hill, Halesowen, Wednesbury, Walsall and Kingswinford.