A family-owned crisp maker from Northern Ireland today emerged as the potential saviour of collapsed rival Golden Wonder.
Tayto, which acquired the Mini Pringles brand from Golden Wonder in December, has begun exclusive talks over buying the remainder of the historic business.
It raised hopes that 380 jobs could be saved at the Scunthorpe factory of Golden Wonder, which makes Nik-Naks, Wheat Crunchies and the newly-launched Golden Skins range.
But the prospects were bleaker for head office staff at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, after Tayto told administrator Kroll that it had no interest in the site.
A total of 20 workers were made redundant at Market Harborough yesterday and up to 60 more could follow once a deal to sell the business is agreed over the next two to three weeks.
Kroll originally received more than 60 expressions of interest in Golden Wonder before whittling these down to a shortlist of three.
Talks with the other bidders came to nothing because they did not offer as good a deal for creditors, Kroll said.
Tayto was currently at the factory in Scunthorpe putting a value on what the business was worth, but has yet to agree exact terms for a sale completely.
Kroll said: “Unfortunately, none of the three serious bidders have expressed any major interest in taking over the head office operations and staff at Market Harborough.
“It is not possible to give any specific information as to the impact the proposed sale will have on the Market Harborough site, although current indications are that only a small number of head office staff would be included in the sale.”
The prospects for the Golden Wonder business were improved by support from key customers and suppliers during the conclusion to the sale process, Kroll added.
Tayto, which employs 350 staff at its base in Tandragee, Co Armagh, recently secured a £10m (€14.7m) contract to supply crisps to supermarket giant Tesco.
The problems experienced by Golden Wonder came at a time when sales in the wider crisps and snacks market slumped in the UK amid growing concerns over health issues such as obesity and levels of salt intake.
Its more healthy Golden Lights range was one of the few crisps to perform well last year – along with Walkers Quavers, Walkers Lites and McCoy’s.
Golden Wonder, which was founded in 1947 and was the first firm to produce flavoured crisps when it made cheese & onion in 1962, closed a factory in Skelmersdale, near Liverpool, in 2004.