Linwoods, a healthy snack manufacturer and baker based in Northern Ireland, is set to make 90 redundancies as part of an ongoing business restructure.
The Armagh-based headquarters will see workers losing their jobs in response to changes in market demand, according to the company.
90 full-time food industry jobs will be lost from the Monaghan Road site in Armagh. The company is also planning to make changes elsewhere, such as ceasing their van sales distribution arm of the business.
However, they claim that there will be no knock-on effect for Linwood Health Foods and the contracted bakery production that they already hold. It’s clear that existing employees will be expected to pick up the slack and ensure that the strongest parts of the business continue to run as smoothly as possible.
“This is obviously a very difficult decision for our company today and our priority is our people. We will do all that we can to make this process as smooth as we can for them and their families,” said John Woods, joint Managing Director of Linwoods. “Linwoods has been a business at the heart of the County Armagh community for a long time and in order to continue to do this we have had to react to a change in the requirements of our market.”
What change in the market is he referring to? Well, according to Woods, buying habits of the usual Linwoods customers have begun to change. They are now seeing less demand for 800g packs of white bread, which would previously have been a strong product.
“When this is combined with the increasing costs for distribution of our bakery and dairy products, it has become a wholly unviable prospect for the future of our business,” he explained. “In comparison to this our health food business is growing and continues to be successful around the world. Our focus and our investment will now be placed on this side of the business.”
It seems that Linwoods are another symptom of the growing trend of health food, which seems to have developed into a real market shift rather than a passing fad. Still, there are 90 people who will now be searching for new packaging jobs as well as roles in distribution and supervising, and they are likely to be unhappy about the prospect.
Linwoods was first established over 60 years ago, when it was simply a small grocery shop. Over the years, it transformed through diverse offerings into a bakery and dairy business. Over time, once again, a shift has occurred from those focuses into a health foods business, beginning in 2002. They now export these products across the whole of the UK, into Europe, and even as far as Asia.
There are 250 full-time and 45 casual employees across the business, all based in Northern Ireland. They have two sites in County Armagh which form the headquarters and a secondary site for their production. This latest change will drop them to just 140 full-time employees. It has not been made clear whether there are any plans to reduce or increase the size of their casual workforce.
This is bad news for those who have positions within the company, but a redundancy package may be enough consolation while they search for a new role. Meanwhile, with many companies reporting expansions and new opportunities, the picture on the whole for the food manufacturing industry is looking more positive than not. However, with difficulties in the restaurant sector and in wholesale distribution, this may not be the case for the foreseeable future.