THE future of four Warrens Bakery stores across Wiltshire has been thrown into doubt after the company said as many as 20 of its stores across the South West could close.

The company confirmed the closures in a statement on Wednesday, admitting it had been forced into a restructure as a result of 'continued Brexit uncertainty'.

In recent years, Warrens has become the largest chain of bakeries in the South West, with four new stores opening in Wiltshire as part of a national expansion plan.

It comes a week after Warrens announced plans to close its factory at St Just near Penzance in Cornwall by December 19.

Warrens said it was unable to confirm which stores will be closing but said that it was supporting staff that are affected by the changes.

The company’s four stores in Devizes, Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge are run on a franchise basis by Julie and Trevor Kerby.

The couple opened their first shop in Melksham in 2018 and were looking for suitable premises in Bradford on Avon and Marlborough as part of their plans for six stores.

Each store employed around six-eight people, so more than 30 jobs are at risk in the four stores threatened with closure.

The Wiltshire Times has left a message for Mrs Kerby but as yet has received no response.

Warrens also operates two bakeries in Taunton, along with stores in Bridgwater, Wellington, and Yeovil and at Bristol Airport.

A spokesman said: "With sadness and a heavy heart, we are consulting with staff and examining streamlining options, which could lead to a significant loss of jobs throughout the West Country.

"All employees that have been placed at risk of redundancy are being fully supported with the opportunity to be placed in alternative job roles within Warrens Bakery.

"So far a good proportion of our at- risk pool have secured alternate jobs within Warrens Bakery.

“Any employees at risk of redundancy will be treated as priority in any of our recruitment processes.

"We have a firm handle on ensuring at risk employees have priority on internal appointments and are supported in finding alternative employment.”

Last week Warrens Bakery announced that its factory in St Just was no longer economically viable. Workers there are due to be made redundant on December 19.

In a statement, Warrens blamed uncertainty generated by Brexit as the main cause of its difficulties.

It said: “In reaction to continued Brexit uncertainty and its ongoing consumer impact, we have taken the extremely hard decision to propose a restructure of the business.

“With sadness and a heavy heart, we are consulting with staff and examining streamlining options, which could lead to a significant loss of jobs throughout the West Country.

“With its configuration and remote location, our St Just manufacturing site, occupied since the 1970s, is no longer economically viable based on market influences.

"We are also consulting on the closure of a number of loss-making shops to safeguard the future of the wider business.”

“By streamlining our portfolio, we will target the profitable segments of our business in food2go and café.

“Our increased focus will be in areas where we have seen continued success, including hospitals, travel hubs, strategically selected high street and destination sites.

“We remain committed to profitable manufacturing and will retain our site at Callington, while we will examine a variety of options to support our growth as a brand nationally, including in major airports.”

Warrens says its “1860 heritage product”, the Cornish pasty, will remain its signature item. However, it will expand its range further to “drive greater consumer interest in a changing world”.

The statement concluded: “We would like to thank our loyal staff and customers wholeheartedly for their continued support.

“We have been part of the West Country community for 160 years and, by implementing these proposed changes, we aim to serve the local economy for many years to come.”