The Authentic Food Company (TAFC) was granted permission to appoint joint provisional liquidators to Dundalk-based TAFC Manufacturing Ireland on Friday (19 October) in order to wind down the company.
James Anderson and Ken Fennell of accounting organisation Deloitte have been appointed joint provisional liquidators, ahead of a court hearing on 12 November.
The liquidators did not seek any power to continue trading. TAFC representative Rossa Fanning said: “Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any alternative.”
In a statement, TAFC managing director Nik Basran said the business had faced serious challenges in recent months that had been specific to the Dundalk 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 – during which we engaged regularly with Union officials – unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure the business and we have therefore had no option other than to close the Dundalk facility,” said Basran. “Our UK operations are unaffected by this announcement and remain profitable.”
According to local publication The Irish Times, the manufacturer had only reported one profitable year since it was founded in 2014 – €400,000 in 2016/17 – and was projected to make a loss of €2.6m (£2.3m) this financial year. The company reportedly owed €3.2m (£2.83m) to its UK sister business and €4.6m (£4m) to its parent company.
Concern over the decision
Trade union Unite, which represents workers at the Dundalk plant, has written to the Republic of Ireland’s minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, to express their concern over the decision to close the factory without consultation.
Brendan Ogle, Unite’s senior officer in Ireland, said the appointment of liquidators was a classic case of “shoddy corporate practice” and warned the union would not tolerate a situation where a highly profitable UK company ditched an Irish subsidiary, leaving workers and taxpayers to “foot the bill”.
“It is ironic that the Irish employees of a highly profitable UK food company may find themselves struggling to put food on their own tables,” Ogle commented.
“If it transpires that TAFC is simply trying to find a cost-effective way to extricate itself from its operations in Dundalk, Unite will leave no stone unturned – either in Ireland or in the UK – to ensure that neither the workers nor the Irish taxpayer are asked to pick up the tab.”