Dundalk-based food company set to close with over 150 job losses

Catherine Gallagher

Since it began trading in 2014, the company has recorded of making only one profitable year in 2016-17, where it made €400,000

It is confirmed that Dundalk-based company, Authentic Food Company will close with 169 job losses.

The Authentic Food Group (TAFC), formerly owned by Heinz, is a UK company that produces frozen ready meals. It was permitted by the High Court on the 19th October to appoint joint provisional liquidators Ken Fenne and James Anderson of Deloitte, to Dundalk-based TAFC Manufacturing Ireland Ltd.

Concerns had brewed in recent weeks over the future of the operation and the company said it was “reviewing operations” at the site. A circular was subsequently posted on a noticeboard within the plant indicating that there were difficulties sourcing raw materials, but also saying that staff would be paid for work done.

In a statement, Nik Basran, managing director of The Authentic Food Company, said: “We have faced some serious business challenges in recent months that have been specific to this site.

“While we have worked tirelessly to meet those challenges head-on and carried out a comprehensive review of the business to try to find a way to make it profitable over the long term, unfortunately, that has not been possible,” said Basran.

In court, Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told the liquidators did not seek any power to continue trading but sought to ensure that an orderly wind-down would ensue.

Since it began trading in 2014, the company has recorded of making only one profitable year in 2016-17, where it made €400,000.

Staff at the site learned in a letter given to them at lunch time on the 19th October about the news of the company’s closure. Workers are represented by the Unite trade union and have lobbied to ensure that they receive their Social Protection entitlements.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirmed that affected employees will receive dedicated advice and support from the Department.

Sinn Féin Councillor Anne Campbell has been involved on the issue of the Authentic Food Company since September of this year.

“On the day we heard the concerns, we informed Louth TD Gerry Adams about them and he immediately wrote to Nik Basran, MD, TAFC in England. Despite repeated efforts to contact TAFC management, there was no response received by our office until October 19 when the liquidators had already moved in,” Cllr Campbell said.

She added: “We (Sinn Féin) have publicly expressed our outrage at the tactics deployed by this company who refused to engage with workers until the final hours of the factory’s existence. The measure of the workforce was seen last week when they continued to work the production lines right up until the moment that the liquidators went in.”

Catherine Gallagher

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