FIFTY-SEVEN people have lost their jobs after a popcorn and confectionery manufacturer went into administration.
Staff were told the devastating news when they turned up for work last Monday at North Anston-based Thomas Tucker Ltd and RJ Foods Ltd.
One employee, who asked not to be named, said staff had not been given any warning and they would not be receive their monthly pay.
More than half of the firm’s 95 Rotherham staff have been axed.
Administrators blamed a “difficult year” for the firm, citing a product recall dispute last month as having had a knock-on effect resulting in “significant losses and pressure on working capital”.
The firm was made to withdraw and recall several brands of popcorn which may have contained milk not mentioned on the label.
Joint administrators Mazars said 57 people had been made redundant and 38 employees had been retained at the North Anston site, while its Retford factory had made seven redundant and kept on 14.
The employee said: “I got a phone call from my colleague on Monday to say that I was on the redundancy list and I needed to go down straight away.
“I went straight down there but no-one was there.”
The man said he had eventually tracked down a woman in the office who confirmed the news.
“How am I going to pay my bills?” he said.
The worker said the majority of the workforce had been sent home on Monday, with only ten being asked to stay until the end of the week.
Administrators said the business was continuing to trade but some redundancies had been “unavoidable”.
The site on Target Park, Houghton Road, is the largest independent UK popcorn manufacturer and named the fourth fastest-growing British food company in 2016.
The family business was founded in 1988 in Nottinghamshire and supplies 90 per cent of British cinemas.
It acquired RJ Foods in 2015, growing its portfolio of baked goods.
The business makes the brands Tommy Tucker, Thomas Tucker, Family Bakery and Krax.
Adam Harris, joint administrator at Mazars, said: “The business has had a difficult year and had undergone an operational restructure and further investment by its owners.
“Whilst the underlying cause was disputed, the business agreed a voluntary product recall following an ongoing investigation with the Food Standards Agency.
“The recall has resulted in significant losses, pressure on working capital and, following a review, there were insufficient further funds available to bridge the shortfall identified.
“Sadly, the administrators have, as a result of the financial position, made a number of the staff redundant.
“Nevertheless, we are hopeful a sale will be achieved in light of the business’ reputation for quality and its dedicated workforce.
“A going concern sale would secure the best outcome for the business’s suppliers and customers and secure a future for the remaining employees.”