Scottish bakery Mathiesons has gone into administration, putting 360 jobs at risk.
The Falkirk-based firm struggled during the recession and is up for sale, despite selling off a controlling stake to private equity firm Symphony Investment Fund last summer. It will continue trading while joint administrator Deloittes looks for a buyer.
Mathiesons, set up in 1872, had been run by the same family until George Stevenson stepped down as MD and was replaced by David Orr. At the time, he said that giving up control of the business was necessary to safe-guard its long-term future. No family members are active in the running of the business; Catriona Stevenson, director of sales and marketing, left last year.
Mathiesons has 26 stores and six cafés around central Scotland and Edinburgh and, as well as its own shops, supplies major wholesalers and national retailers. The firm turned over £9m in 2008/09 and £7.2m in the nine months to December 2009. However, an industry insider said that it had "overstretched itself financially".
John Reid, a joint administrator of the firm, said it was continuing to trade the business as usual and hoped to sell it as a going concern. "While the firm has a largely successful retail network, with owned and leased properties, and has the required credentials to supply the major supermarkets, it has been unable to support an over-burdened high cost base," said Reid. He said there were already several interested parties, but that talks were at an early stage.
Kirk Hunter, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB), said he was disappointed at the news and hoped a buyer could be found. "Mathie-sons was a go-ahead company that tried to do all the right things in the right way. It had developed new markets, particularly with the major retailers and was highly regarded in the industry."
Mathiesons invested more than £4m in a new 47,000sq ft bakery on the outskirts of Falkirk in 2006. The SAMB training centre, located at the Mathiesons site, is unaffected.