Interested buyer says Stenhousemuir jobs didn’t have to go

Over 100 jobs were lost at an iconic sweetie firm because of a clerical error according to a firm which bid for the company.

McCowans shut its doors last month after the business went into administration and buyers could not be found.

The rights to produce McCowans two most popular products, Highland Toffee and Wham Bars, were sold last week to Tangerine who will produce them from its English factories.

Douglas Rae, owner of Greenock-based Golden Casket Confectionery Manufacturers who make Millions, Buchanan’s and Half Pounder sweets, said he was ‘disgusted’ an error lead to jobs being lost.

Mr Rae claims he tried to intervene and keep the work in Stenhousemuir but his bid was overlooked by administrators Grant Thornton.

He said: “I am disgusted that because of this error people have lost their jobs.”

Mr Rae says he called Grant Thornton to express an interest and was told to send it in writing to the Glasgow branch of the administrators.

It transpired this should have been sent to their office in Reading and the letter was never forwarded on to the relevant person.

By the time Golden Casket chased up their enquiry into McCowans, the rights to make the products had been sold to Blackpool business Tangerine.

Mr Rae continued: “I am truly saddened that this iconic Scottish brand will now be produced in England, but even sadder still that people in Stenhousemuir lost their jobs.

“We are the biggest confectionery manufacturer in Scotland and if our bid had been successful we would have kept the factory open and jobs losses would have been minimal, if any.

“When I started my business in Greenock 50 years ago, there were over 100 Scottish sweetie firms. Now you can count them all on one hand and McCowans is just the latest to be lost.

“I feel Grant Thornton should have chased up a note of interest from a Scottish company who could have retained this brand in Scotland and prevented jobs from being lost.”

A spokesperson from the administrators said: “The approach by Golden Casket was made in the latter stages of the administration process when negotiations for the sale of the assets were under way with a number of parties.

“The businesses, which comprised the interdependent operations of Thornycroft and New McCowans and Bristows, were widely marketed before and after the administration and we were actively contacted by 60 parties.

“We believe we achieved the best possible outcome for the creditors of New McCowans.”