AN award-winning North Ayrshire bakery has confirmed it is to close a shop branch later this month.

The Irvine's Bakery store in Kilbirnie will cease operating in the town on Friday, May 31.

It was a decision not taken lightly by business owner Maurice Irvine, who says that a lack of production staff has driven the move.

He says that staff at their production hub in Beith have been shorthanded for more than a year and that a "tough decision" had to be made.

It is hoped that a majority of staff from the branch on Kilbirnie's Main Street can be relocated to the remaining Irvine's branches, in Beith and Dalry, which will be unaffected and remain open as usual.

Maurice explained: “Basically, we don’t have enough production staff in the bakery. We’ve been shorthanded for well over a year now.

“There is a shortage of skilled bakers and we’ve struggled with that. We just had to make changes and work with what we had.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to fit in most of the staff at other branches and keep redundancies to a minimum.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The Irvine's Bakery shop in Kilbirnie will close at the end of this month.The Irvine's Bakery shop in Kilbirnie will close at the end of this month. (Image: Street View)

“It’s good staff we’ve got. We just don’t have enough production staff to work in the bakery in Beith.

“Demand is exceeding supply and it’s just not doing us any good. I need to think of the production staff that are there – they’re doing their best but we’re really struggling to keep up.”

He added that the shortage of skilled staff is a growing concern within the trade, and that despite attempts to increase production staff they have been unable to grow to meet demand.

Maurice continued: “It is a shrinking profession. We’re the only bakers in the Garnock Valley really. There used to be six bakers in Beith and probably similar numbers in Dalry and Kilbirnie.

“There is a lot less skilled bakers out there, and a lot less people going into the trade, and we’re paying the price for that now.

“It’s a struggle to keep up. I’m not getting any younger, none of us are.”