Morrisons to axe Rathbones bakery in Wigan

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More than 160 staff have been put on notice at the Rathbones bakery in Wigan owned by Morrisons.

As part of the retailer’s plans to grow production in its bakery division, Morrisons said it was looking to expand its site in Wakefield by 41,250 sq ft. But the plans meant it would close the Wigan site, where there is no room for expansion.

Morrisons said it would look to relocate as many staff as possible either to Wakefield or to other parts of its business.

“We have seen significant growth as a company in recent years and have big plans for the future,” said Morrisons group manufacturing director Martyn Fletcher.

“We need to be sure that we have the manufacturing facilities to equip us for this and after a detailed review of our operations we believe it is right to invest and grow our Wakefield facility.”

He added: “Given our strong manufacturing presence in the northwest of England, we are confident that many of our colleagues in Wigan will find alternative roles with us in the area.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • Let us not forget, that Wigan was the foundation town of Rathbones which was family owned by the Wigan family for many years with Tom Rathbone managing the bakery. Morrisons have no excuse for suggesting that the site does not allow for expansion. Maybe the Newtown site is too small for that, but there are many other potential sites around Wigan. Maybe Yorkshire is seen as being the preferred site because its where Morrisons was born. Come on Morrisons, remember your expansion outside Yorkshire started in Wigan when you took over Dave Whelan's supermarkets. I think you owe the town a little more than a kick in the teeth! Maybe you see the Newtown site as possible M Local opportunity?

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  • Brian, it pays not to get too cocky until you learn the facts ........

    Rathbones are not a Wigan family.

    The bakery Rathbones, of Upholland, are an offshoot of a Liverpool trading family.

    Dave Whelan's discount stores weren't only in Wigan.. One was, however it was only a very small one which Morrison's weren't interested in. Their target was the Whelan's in Sutton, St.Helens. That was a large (ish) unit and it stood on a piece of valuable land, ripe for expansion.
    In fact, Whelan's Sutton, St.Helens, store was where JJB Sports, as we know it, was founded after he initially bought the JJB sports shop in Market Street, Wigan.

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  • Well, I was in business in Up Holland for many years, and one of the Rathbone brothers who lived in Up Holland was a customer of mine. I was born and bred or should it be bread, in Shevington, and Rathbones bakey, owned by the Rathbone family of Up Holland, who also owned Grove Laundry in Upholland and a number of other satelite businesses around Wigan, were ostensibly a Wigan family and were baking bread in Wigan when I was born in 1943, and way back beyond then. Maybe, like many of us, ancestorally they were from some other part of the globe originally, but I remember them baking bread in Wigan, as a child.

    I could be completely wrong on this point, but I am sure that fellow Wiganners would support me on these facts.

    As for Whelans discount stores, the very first one was in Wigan opposite the old bus station. Accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that David Whelan is an honourary Wiganner, being born a Yorkshire man.

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  • I am most disappointed that Rathbones bakery has been closed by Morrisons. Their brown bread was the best in store, Morrisons wholemeal is nowhere near as nice. It would be good if the Rathbones recipe could still be produced at Morrrisons bakery. How about it Morrisons?

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  • Rathbones brown loaf was the best, morrison best is not comparable in taste quality.

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  • The Rathbone family still has a small pie shop at the crossroads at the top of Upholland.

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