More than 100 employees have been left without jobs after food busienss Darby’s Fresh Bake was forced to close its 27 stores in New South Wales yesterday afternoon.
The business, which was originally established in 1969, has had a tumultuous year battling declining sales and has finally decided to close its doors.
It sold a range of baked goods, including pies and cakes, and employed 105 people.
Owner Victor De Vries had only recently gained back control of the business after it fell into administration in March but was subject to a Deed of Company Arrangement.
Bradd Morelli of Jirsch Sutherland is the deed administrator for the company and will now oversee a process he says will likely end in the company’s liquidation.
Morelli tells SmartCompany some employees were in tears yesterday when they were informed of the news, but De Vries is working with them to secure new employment.
“They’re upset over the whole thing,” he says. “It’s very disappointing.”
“The main focus now is assisting the employees, it’s a large number.”
The business owes around $1 million to creditors, the largest of which is the Australian Tax Office.
A meeting of creditors will take place in two weeks, although while there are assets to realise, the business operated through lease arrangements and has no outstanding property on its books.
It is hoped employees will receive all outstanding entitlements owed to them.
Morelli explains while Darby’s was compliant with the terms of its Deed of Company Arrangement, the owner reached a view that the business was not viable as a going concern.
Poor foot traffic in regional shopping centres, where many Darby’s stores are located, was a contributing factor to the company’s woes, SmartCompany understands.
Darby’s relaunched in 2001 with a new marketing team, re-branding the company as Darby’s Fresh Bake, although in the years since consumer trends towards online shopping and away from shopping centres have taken their toll on the business, SmartCompany understands.
Stores are located on NSW’s central coast and in the southern half of the state, as well as in Thornton and Rutherford.
SmartCompany contacted De Vries for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.