Deal brings crumb of comfort to staff

FALKIRK. The Howgate. Mathiesons Cafe.
FALKIRK. The Howgate. Mathiesons Cafe.

A BAKERY and cafe which has been in the Howgate Shopping Centre for over 20 years is to close.

News was broken to the 30 Mathiesons staff, mainly part-timers, on Tuesday evening by the company’s retail director Mark Bradford.

However, the firm has just won a massive contract to produce bakery products for a major high street retailer and he hopes many of the workers will have the opportunity to move to production jobs at the Larbert bakery or posts in either of Mathiesons’ two remaining town centre premises.

The bakery and cafe will close at the end of May and comes after months of negotiations between the company and the new owners of the shopping centre, Rockspring Property Investment Managers.

It appears the two sides could not reach agreement on a new rental deal.

However, it appears that the Howgate bosses’ plans include opening a new food court.

Mr Bradford said: “Mathiesons has been a stalwart presence in the Howgate since it first opened. We are very happy there, we have built up a loyal customer following, our trading figures are very good and we were very keen to extend our current lease.

“However, our strenuous efforts have proved to be unsuccessful, despite lengthy negotiations with the current landlords, including an offer from us to move to another vacant unit in the centre. We simply don’t understand their decision, but have been told it is irreversible.”

Mathiesons Foods Ltd was set up last year after the original bakery company went into administration.

Yesterday (Wednesday), it was confirmed the Howgate had been in negotiations over the lease since then, but the offer made was “not competitive” when compared to deals offered by other food operators.

Suzanne Arkinson, Howgate general manager, said bosses were sorry staff and customers would be affected by the decision.

She said: “The new owners have exciting plans for the centre and have committed to significant investment to enhance the retail mix, as well as its look and feel. New key retailers starting with Wilkinson, closely followed by the new food court, will bring additional jobs to the town and encourage customers to shop locally.”