The Irish Pride-owned Keatings’ bakery at Kanturk, Co Cork, is to cease production in early March, with the loss of 76 full-time jobs and 20 more part-time administration jobs, writes Hugh Oram.

Ten distribution jobs will be retained at the site, as production is transferred to other Irish Pride bakeries, in Taghmon, Co Wexford, and Ballinrobe, Co Mayo. Both have seen substantial investment in recent years. Last year, Taghmon saw a E10 million investment in new speciality bread-making equipment.

Irish Pride said the Kanturk bakery, established 92 years ago, has been making losses for some years and is no longer a viable production unit. It will do everything it can to help employees affected by the closure to find new jobs.

“Kanturk’s position has been under review for some time and unfortunately, we have now arrived at this decision,” said Irish Pride in a statement. “The industry has changed radically in recent years in response to more competitive market conditions. The sector has seen significant rationalisation and this is likely to continue.”

HM Keating & Son was once one of the largest bakery employers in Cork city and county. It owned a number of other bakeries, all now closed.Keatings was absorbed by Irish Pride in 1997. In 1998, it employed 365 people in manufacture and distribution at Keatings and in its Binchys specialist confectionery bakery in Kanturk. In 1998, Binchys was closed and employee numbers dropped to 200, as Keatings was rationalised.

Investment was made in the company and a number of new product initiatives were tried, without long-term success. Two years ago, the bakery decided to concentrate on speciality bread, serving the local rather than the national market. None of the realignment worked and Irish Pride says it has become impossible to reverse the loss-making situation.

Irish Pride is owned by One51, formerly the IAWS Co-operative Society.