HUNDREDS of workers today face an uncertain future after administrators were called into Durham-based Peters Bakers.
More than 400 staff in 58 shops in the region have been affected by the collapse of the company.
The firm has been hit by rising material costs, increased energy bills and tough trading conditions.
Administrators KPMG say the business will continue to operate while it looks for a buyer and has praised the loyal workforce who produce a 100-strong product range, but has warned redundancies are expected.
The demise of the family-run business, which supplies some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, comes in the wake of the decision to close Kerry Foods, in nearby Gilesgate, with the loss of 350 posts, and Cumbrian Seafoods in Seaham, where 281 people will lose their jobs.
Peters has a turnover of £12million and employs 403 people.
Mark Firmin, KPMG’s northern head of restructuring and joint administrator, said: “The challenging retail environment on the high street is exacerbated by rising commodity and energy prices squeezing margins in this sector.
“These factors, along with reduced volumes with its wholesale customers, has led to the failure of this 46-year-old family business.”
The company’s main factory was refurbished and kitted out with the latest equipment in a £9million refurbishment after a devastating fire in 2004.
It also tried to cash in on a new market by buying a fleet of vans to take orders direct to office workers.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for Durham City, said: “This is really dreadful news, especially coming on the back of the closure of Kerry Foods.
“Obviously I hope to meet with the management and workers at the backer in the very near future to see if anything can be done to save these jobs, or at least some of them.”
Peters has shops in Blandford Street, Union Street and Southwick Green in Sunderland, New Elvet, Saddler Street, North Road, Sunderland Road in Gilesgate, Belmont, Framwellgate and Sherburn in Durham, as well as stores in Hetton, Houghton, Fence Houses, Shiney Row Seaham, Peterlee, Horden, Shotton Colliery, Chester-le-Street, The Galleries in Washington, Wingate, Thornley, Wheatley Hill and Blackhall.