Maple Leaf Bakery UK will close two of its bakeries in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and Southend, Essex, with effect from October, 2008.

Managing director Peter Maycock said the broader economic situation had left them with no choice but to seek further operating cost reductions.

While the company has managed to absorb much of the impact of higher costs, rising energy prices remain a major concern, he said.

"The company is facing an economic climate never seen before in our 11-year history in the UK," said Maycock. "We will do everything possible to help all colleagues affected by these closures, including finding alter- native employment for some at our other operations. But there will be some redundancies."

Marketing director Guy Hall said Maple Leaf will transfer the business to its other sites.