Dozens of jobs have been axed and more are under threat after an embattled chain of West Midlands high street bakeries collapsed into administration.
Solihull-based Cooks the Bakery is the the latest retailer to succumb to tough conditions on the high street.
Administrators from ReSolve Partners said 42 jobs had already been made redundant after eight bakeries were closed, including stores in Birmingham, Worcester and Coventry.
A further eight outlets are continuing to trade as a buyer is sought – compared with more than 120 bakeries and coffee shops employing 900 people as little as five years ago.
A total of 62 people remain employed by the company, which operates a number of bakeries based across the Midlands and south of England.
Joint administrator Cameron Gunn said: “The administrators will continue to trade eight of the stores with a view to selling the business and assets as a going concern.
“The remaining eight stores have been closed or had ceased to trade shortly before our appointment.”
Mr Gunn was appointed as joint administrator alongside Mark Supperstone and Simon Harris.
The business has shrunk since the chain took over 123 bakeries and saved 900 jobs when it struck a deal for rival Three Cooks in 2006. But in 2008 the number of shops had fallen to about 80.
Latest accounts filed at Companies House show the company made a loss of nearly £594,000 in the year to March 27, 2010, slipping into the red after making a small profit in 2009.
Revenue, including from outlets in Northfield, West Heath, Bromsgrove, Dudley, Halesowen, Kidderminster and Redditch, fell from £13.7 million to £10.7 million across the period.
Directors said at the time that the rising price of food and low wheat yields, alongside falling consumer spending, had hit hard.
The directors’ report states: “The past year has been one of the most difficult in living memory, with little signs of any significant recovery at present.”