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Satterthwaites to close down this weekend

End of the line after potential buyers 'fail to convince' owner

Written by . Published on October 12th 2012.


Satterthwaites to close down this weekend

IT was a case of use it or lose it and in an age when blue sky thinking is everything, there were only grey clouds over north Liverpool today as bakery Satterthwaites announced it was closing for good this weekend.

The family business, founded 102 years ago in Southport, will liquidate eight shops in Crosby, Waterloo, Formby, Maghull and Bootle after the firm failed to find a satisfactory buyer. Its assets will now be handed to administrators. 

'There's a lady, in her 80s, who
comes in three or four times a week
and has done all her life. We decided
to ring her up yesterday to break
the news. We didn't want her coming
here and wondering what had happened'

This morning in the South Road, Waterloo, branch, staff and customers were doing their best to keep a lid on their emotions as the shop, ironically, was doing its briskest trade in years. 

Linda Kelly, Lynne Hampson and Sue Reid have 28 years' service between them. Now they can expect only Government Statutory Redundancy payments to see them through the bleak winter ahead. 

Linda Kelly, Sue Reid and Lynne HampsonBrave faces: Linda Kelly, Sue Reid and Lynne Hampson

“We can track whole generations of families,” said Assistant Manager Sue. “Years ago, sweethearts coming in to order engagement cakes. A bit later there would be the order for a wedding cake, the christening cake. Then their toddlers eating their first hot sausage roll, and a bit further down the line coming in on their own after school. Now they are grown up and it all begins again.” 

Except this time it doesn't. Many critics say the firm has failed to keep up with modern times. With more irony, then, owner Roger Wilson took to Twitter to announce the news. 

“Sadly, I do have to announce that Saturday, October 13, will be our last day of trading. My deep apologies to all our beautiful customers. 

SatterthwaitesSatterthwaites“Our attempts to find a buyer for the whole firm as a going concern came to nothing. Better to close down in a orderly way than to crash.” 

Last month, Liverpool Confidential revealed that Satterthwaites was desperately seeking a buyer. But when Wilson was questioned today, it seemed there had been offers, but none, in his business judgement, passed muster. “None convinced me that they had a viable plan. Some might say I was wrong. Mybad ifso,” he tweeted, all begging the question: is liquidation better than sale? 

Satterthwaites has been accused of hiding its considerable lights under a bushel where advertising and promotion are concerned and perhaps in a nod to more financially savvy high street rivals, Wilson added: “Starting again I'd not assume that having a better product trumped hype and clever selling.” 

Satterthwaites-009Meanwhile, at South Road, the procession of (mainly) grown men were close to tears. “We had a chap in here yesterday who was inconsolable,” says Linda, who still finds time to make us a cup of tea. “Been coming in for years. We never knew his name or anything, but Satterthwaites clearly means a lot to him. He was sobbing his heart out.” 

She added: “People are saying thing like, 'what am I going to do for Christmas?' They are genuinely devastated. We don't know what to say, we keep hoping they won't set us off too.

“There's a lady, in her 80s, who comes in three or four times a week and has done all her life. We decided to ring her up yesterday to break the news. We didn't want her coming here and wondering what had happened.” 

Satterthwaites prides itself on baking with top quality ingredients – which is reflected in the price point, however the shops are closing because of lack of footfall.

Satterthwaites-002

Yet, some staff thought several of the leased premises should have been shed and that more could have been done to entice people into the shops.

“We have never really done any advertising, or any offers," said one. "We are right by a beach with thousands of families streaming past in the summer. And yet, apart from four-for-three sausage rolls, we have never done deals on anything.” 

Back on Twitter, Wilson said: “We hope that some of our shops will eventually re-open under new management, but this will be in the hands of the liquidator. 

“102 years is a long time for a family firm. I wish with all my heart it could have been longer, but the world has changed too much. Terribly sad.”

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31 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

Terrible news. Picture of the lovely warm Satties staff makes me want to cry.

College PuddingOctober 12th 2012.

It's very sad and everything, but for a company that doesn't move with the times, I am impressed that its elderly owner uses expressions like "my bad" on twitter

Paul WardOctober 12th 2012.

Its elderly owner has made a very good living for years, has plenty for his retirement, and couldn't really give a stuff about the business, as is obvious from his lack fo effort over the years. Sympathise with staff, not a rich and selfish old man.

Andrew McFarlaneOctober 12th 2012.

I'm never impressed when anyone uses the phrase "my bad". I am sad to hear Satterthwaites is closing, though.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

Have to agree with Paul Ward here.
Mr Wilson clearly doesn't give a stuff about either his customers or indeed his staff, who face Christmas on the Dole! Surely it would have been better to sell to someone than no-one and give them a chance to save the jobs.
The shops are clearly (quaintly?) still very much still way back in the last century. They do not appear to have had a bean spent on them in the last 30 years - all the more in Mr Wilson's pension pot no doubt!!
I worked in Burlington House, Waterloo for 10 years and was amazed at the pompous attitude of the management at Satterthwaites, who with their high prices, lack of hot savouries at lunch time and the expectation that people would always keep coming has come back and bitten them on the backside! I hope someone can save the jobs of the poor employees!

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

Does all seem a rather emotional reaction to the closure of a pie shop
The staff certainly look devastated and most aggrieved in the picture!
Just shows, fail to adapt = fail to survive

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

That's a grossly stupid observation regarding the staff

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

That's a grossly stupid observation regarding the staff

AnonymousOctober 13th 2012.

you can say that again

Darth FormbyOctober 13th 2012.

And again!

Darth FormbyOctober 13th 2012.

My first job was van lad at Waterloo Furnishings. The younger me went into this shop and asked for a slice of 'Navy Cake' once.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

So sad that such a wonderful organisation has to close down. No one has such lovely cakes. My grandson will be gutted. We bought our wedding cake from Satterthwaites and celebrate 40 years in Feb 2013. I still have one of the cake boxes I use for Christmas decorations.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

It's humbling that the Satterthwaites workers are more concerned about the customers than themselves. What are THEY going to do for Christmas?

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

Something is not quite right here .. Owner says there were buyers but he 'wasn't convinced'... And so liquidation is better...? Astounding given the history, jobs, incredibly loyal customer base and great product! Just doesn't add up. All this business needed was some streamlining and marketing strategy!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 17th 2012.

close down an sell the shops and he probably gets more money than he would selling the business on.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

I think I'll set up a funeral where people applaud.
Then a Facebook page
Then a candle lit vigil
A few bunches of flowers tied to the nearest lamp post
Then I'll go online and post sentimental drivel everywhere
I mean, come on. It's the modern way

J StringerOctober 12th 2012.

Yeh the modern way to allow every single high street to look the same with mass produced crap sold to unthinking consumers who LET this happen. The difference here is this was a successful business with an amazing product quality.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 12th 2012.

So perhaps you could enlighten us on how it crashed and failed? Successful?

AnonymousOctober 14th 2012.

Simply, it didn't innovate or use marketing. One staff member is quoted as saying we never promoted any offers, apart from 4 sausage rolls for the price of 3. No modern sales techniques or innovations were employed.

AnonymousOctober 13th 2012.

Gutted. What a waste

Phelan PirrieOctober 13th 2012.

This is tragic news! Everytime I visit the UK with my Liverpool born wife to visit family I stuff myself with their pork pies, which are the best the in world!

I always wondered how they survived given they did not franchise or promote the brand. Really it could be a national brand focusing on traditional values and quality baking in a time when many chains stores churn out rubbish - not small challenge I admit, but the only way forward. Financial control and brand management are to only way to survive and this is what still could see the company survive under new management.

Finger crossed!
Phelan, Auckland, New Zealand

Phelan Pirrie shared this on Facebook on October 13th 2012.
Mike HomfrayOctober 13th 2012.

I think some people here ought to get their facts right. Roger Wilson was a university lecturer in the south of England who returned to Crosby to run the business. If he hadn't done this it would have closed many years ago. A small company relies on its products and the margins just are too tight to do the special deals offered by Greggs et al. I know Roger investigated a range of possibilities but ultimately sale was the only option following a drop in sales this year. Somehow I don't think the business has recently been the honeypot some are suggesting. He is 71 and surely deserves his retirement. The lack of other independent shops which manage to survive in Crosby must tell us something

efcmark777October 14th 2012.

Whilst its really amazing that people can in turn slag off te owner, then some of the staff, despite not knowing ANY of the facts....it's surely impossible not to be equally amazed that the owner feels it better to liquidate and wreck the lives of so many loyal staff members ? Why ? Because its his OWN WORDS that surely cannot fail to leave you with the impression that at 71 he's had enough and somehow couldn't be bothered to at least put aside his doubts and let another try to save jobs ? I can't believe this is true but those Twitter Tweets etc don't read well. This is about human beings thrown out of work, devasting their families at a terrible time for finding new employment. The morons poking fun at the situation must be very secure and very comfortable folks, pathetic is the only way to describe them. Too often businesses fail with no way forward, but those asking "why" this time shouldn't be dismissed too lightly as it really feels very strange.....a cynic might suggest that it's better financially to liquidate than make any profit from a sale....but again is that really right ? Very weird and sad.

efcmark777October 14th 2012.

Ps, I've just re read the entire posting list and feel bad that my own contribution hasn't given enough, indeed ANY credit to the family owners, after 102 years providing employment, I really can't believe they have abandoned their staff and nor that they would see liquidation as a selfish way out to somehow save money......there has to be something here we are not aware of and perhaps we should all apologise to the staff and owners for commenting when we have so little information.

Roger WilsonOctober 14th 2012.

Most prospective purchasers pulled out when they saw the books. Some only wanted the name to badge their inferior products. None had a plan that seemed sensible to me. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps there was a way. But where are the other firms like us in Crosby, or anywhere else? All have closed. We were the last one left. How long can anyone go on losing money for an ideal of quality that not enough customers want?

Well, the plant can now be purchased from the liquidator, and the staff and their skills can be re-employed. I would back any attempt. At 71 I am no longer available to do the heavy lifting, I'm afraid, but anyone else can now pick up the business very cheaply. I really do hope somebody does it successfully, and if they do we will all see how it _should_ have been done.

As for 'mybad', well It's hard to pack the truth into 140 characters without doing violence to the language. Let me explain.

We got the quality right for 102 years, but we got the advertising wrong? Guilty as charged. We should have taken on the advertising budgets of the big national chains and overcome them all with our persuasive brilliance and marketing hype. Only, you see, advertising and marketing are expensive. We had spent the money on the product instead, and that made it difficult for us.

What a foolish error

Darth FormbyOctober 14th 2012.

You are right Roger. Tansey's made better bread than you, but your pies, pasties and cakes seriously take some beating. Most people buy according to price, not quality. I had hoped that maybe one shop could have continued, and been successful.

Sprightly GentlemanOctober 15th 2012.

What does "mybad" mean?

AnonymousOctober 15th 2012.

It's like the opposite of "Sick" dude
ROFL, LOL, etc

1 Response: Reply To This...
Sprightly GentlemanOctober 16th 2012.

What do they mean, o young ruffian?

AnonymousOctober 15th 2012.

In a nutshell this local business closed because not enough local people shopped there. It's a classic case of use it or lose it. If I know a shop produces a brilliant product I will give them my custom and spread the word. The reality is the days of the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker have been replaced by the Asda, the Tesco, the Sainsbury and perhaps the Lidl. We, the public, kill local shops not the big supermarkets.

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