124 jobs to go at Gallagher's Bakery

Workers at Gallagher's Bakery, Ardara were furious yesterday, not only at news that 124 jobs are to go, but at they way learned the news.

Workers at Gallagher's Bakery, Ardara were furious yesterday, not only at news that 124 jobs are to go, but at they way learned the news.

The bakery is known for its range of breads, pastries and the French Mill line of frozen baked goods. Some of the workers have been with the factory since it was first opened by the Gallagher family almost 19 years ago.

Gallagher's managing director Declan Gallagher told the company's 189 staff at a meeting yesterday afternoon, that: "Due to deteriorating market conditions in both the UK and Ireland, production of the company's range of frozen products at the plant is to cease. However, intensive negotiations with prospective buyers are currently underway to save the local 'fresh' business.

He added: "Unfortunately, the 'frozen' business is not sustainable in the long term. Its position has been under review for some time and we have now arrived at this decision which has been taken with some regret.

"The decision to cease 'frozen' production is no reflection on the workforce who have worked hard with us to try to resolve the commercial issues, but is exclusively a recognition of the market realities at present. This is a huge blow for staff and their families.

"We will endeavour to secure employment opportunities for staff and Outplacement Support Programme will be put in place to assist employees to find alternative employment. Our focus today must be on finding a sustainable solution for the local 'fresh' Gallagher's bakery."

After the meeting, a company spokesperson told media that 124 jobs would go related to frozen products, around 40 jobs in fresh products would be saved if a buyer could be found for the fresh lines and approximately 25 jobs might be relocated, but he would not specify where.

Cllr. Thomas Pringle, who was the only politician present, said the news was "a devastating blow to the whole of south west Donegal".

He added: "The loss to the local economy will be huge and there will be a major knock-on effect in the coming months, as jobs are lost in local businesses that depended on these workers' custom.

"The are people who spent their wages locally, they weren't buying holiday homes or investing in shares. All of that money will be lost to the area."

He speculated that there may have been other reasons than those given for the decision to cease production of the French Mill frozen line of products at Ardara.

"Gallagher's was bought out by IAWS in December 2007 and the next year IAWS became part of the Swiss Group Arytza. Basically, the same company owns both French Mill and Cuisine de France. Yes, there's no doubt that companies in Donegal have higher costs, especially transporting their products to markets, but you have to ask whether the purchase of Gallagher's in the first place was a case of cutting out the opposition."

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