Northern Ireland news

The Cookie Box bakery chain closes all outlets citing "immediate pressures" on business

The Cookie Box outlet on the Lisburn Road, Belfast which is one of eight to close. Picture by Mal McCann.

BELFAST-based bakery chain The Cookie Box has closed all its stores, telling staff the business had become “unmanageable” due to "immediate pressures".

The cookie and milkshake specialist, which started as a single outlet on Ann Street in 2008, had expanded under new ownership in recent years, growing to eight outlets in Belfast, Lisburn, Portrush and Ballymena.

However, in an email sent on Thursday evening by a third party insolvency company on behalf of the directors, staff were told their employment contracts had been terminated, adding that they should not to come to work on Friday morning.

The message said that all units had closed “with immediate effect”, adding: “I apologise for the timing of this email, however given the immediate pressures, the position has become unmanageable.”

The message was sent just hours after the Patisserie Valerie bakery chain closed its three shops in Belfast, citing “unprecedented challenges”.

The Cookie Box was originally started by husband and wife Brian and Claire McRandal in 2008. The business came under the ownership of Craig and Valerie Holmes in October 2018. Mr Holmes is a director of Belfast-based corporate finance firm HNH Capital Partners Limited.

In the past year, the company had opened new outlets in Ballymena, Ballyhackamore and in Belfast’s Great Northern Mall.

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