DOZENS of jobs have been lost at a well-known chain of West Somerset butchers after the business went into administration, forcing the closure of five stores.

Shocked staff arrived for work at the Minehead branch of Gerald David Butchers in Park Street on Monday only to find administrators on the site and learn they were out of jobs.

The family firm was founded in West Somerset in 1969 and had eight branches across Devon and Somerset, including one in Dulverton and another in Taunton, which have also shut. Three of the shops have been kept open while administrators try and sell the business to a new buyer.

David Kirk, of administrators Kirk Hills, told the County Gazette: “Hopefully we will find a buyer which would mean at least some of the jobs can be saved.”

It is believed that 13 members of staff have lost their jobs at the Minehead branch with more than 50 people made redundant across the business.

Mr Kirk declined to give any further information as the circumstances surrounding the administration of the firm, which is run by boss Gerald David.

However, one former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told the County Gazette: “I wasn't at work on Monday - I found out what had happened via Facebook.

“There were rumours flying around so I messaged one of the family members and he messaged back saying that I had been made redundant.

“We can't get hold of any managers, the phone lines have been pulled down. It's disgraceful. I suspected something was wrong a while back.”

Members of the public told the County Gazette they saw the Dulverton store being cleared out over the weekend.

The staff member added: “I know there is someone who has paid a lot of money to have a hog roast this weekend and whether they have been told or not I don't know, it's just wrong.

“We were paid on a weekly basis and therefore won't be getting paid this Friday. Who knows when we'll see any type of redundancy payment and this is all in the run-up to Christmas.”

Writing on Facebook after the news of the administration broke, Revive Minehead founder Fay Dyke said: “Our thoughts go out to all of the staff members who have lost their jobs.

“The launch of the Shop Local Loyalty Card Scheme on Saturday just goes to highlight the importance of supporting our local businesses.”

nThe County Gazette was unable to contact any members of the David family for comment on the administration.