ONE of the best-known firms in the Burnham and Highbridge area has gone into administration – and most of its 175 workers have lost their jobs.

The family-run Woodberry Brothers and Haines Furniture Group, based on the Walrow Industrial Estate, in Highbridge, has been supplying furniture to retailers across the UK since 1949.

However, it fell into financial difficulty and administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers were brought in last week.

Ross Connock, joint administrator and director at PwC, said: “Over recent years, the business has seen its turnover reduce and was in need of restructuring but lacked the investment to do so.

“The operations are well located with a strong employee, customer and supplier base but regrettably the current position of the company is such that we have had to make the immediate decision to cease operations which has resulted in the redundancy of the majority of employees.

“Our immediate priority is to work alongside the remaining employees and assess the options available that could preserve and protect the company’s assets.

“This will involve discussions with a number of key stakeholders and interested parties.”

Cllr Martin Cox, Mayor of Burnham and Highbridge, said: “It was a shock to learn of the administration of Woodbury Bros and Haines and particularly sad news for their 175 employees.

“They were one of the UK’s premier manufacturers of domestic furniture which has been run by three generations of their family.

“The administrator’s first job will be to try and rescue the company so there is a glimmer of hope this may happen. Otherwise it is a devastating blow for Highbridge and surrounding areas.”

The Weekly News was unable to contact anybody at Woodberry Bros and Haines as we went to press.

Hillview Carnival Club, which has been using the firm’s lorry park for preparations on its carnival float, said it did not wish to comment on the development at this stage.