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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Bakery chain goes bust
Mountstevens bakery shop in Bristol
Mountstevens customers will find shut doors on Thursday
The Bristol-based bakery chain Mountstevens has gone bust, threatening the jobs of up to 800 people.

Production at the firm's bakery has stopped, and shops will not open on Thursday.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is helping the company arrange meetings with its creditors to renegotiate its debts.

Mountstevens has more than 90 bakery shops and coffee houses across the south and west of England, including Bath, Cheltenham and Gloucester.

When staff arrived for work on Wednesday morning at the firm's headquarters on Bristol's Fishponds Trading estate, they were told that Mountstevens was "unable to meet ongoing commitments".

Survival plan?

Staff said the firm had been crushed by its debt burden.

A Mountstevens' sales manager, who declined to give his name, told BBC News Online the collapse had come as a huge shock.

"Only last Thursday we had a big meeting where we were shown a new four-year survival plan to turn around the company", he said.

A shop assistant said her manager had called her in the afternoon, saying "are you sitting down?' then she said 'I've got to let you know we're going into receivership - don't bother coming in tomorrow'."

The firm said in a statement that its directors had been forced into the decision with "deep regret".

Mountstevens was bought in 1997 by Lyndale Food.

Back then the company said the move would secure the future of all its employees.

The acquisition made Lyndale the second largest retail baker in the country.

However, Lyndale Food sold the business in September 2001 to Cleary Foods, a firm based in South Wales.

Lyndale declined to say why it had sold on its Bristol subsidiary.


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