Kylemore Foods has announced plans to close its fresh bakery and 24 shops at the end of August. This will entail 317 redundancies. The employees are to be offered three times their statutory redundancy payments.

The group had to take drastic measures to ensure its long-term survival after orders from major customers like supermarkets were substantially reduced. Kylemore is to concentrate on its parbaked operations, in which it competes against Cuisine de France.

The company had tried to find buyers for the bakery and shops but to no avail. A spokesman for the group expressed regret that the move had become unavoidable, saying that Kylemore was one of Ireland's last few 'craft' bakeries, which have a high labour content compared to industrial bakeries.

Much of the growth of in store bakeries in supermarkets has come at the expense of such craft bakeries, although to some extent Kylemore's own parbaked operation has been competing with its traditional operations.

It is believed that the Kylemore bakery and shops have been loss making for the past four years.