SCOTTISH baker Aulds Holdings narrowed losses in a year which saw its retail business move into liquidation, new accounts have shown.

The Greenock-based food group dramatically scaled back its presence on the Scottish high street with the liquidation of subsidiary Thomas Auld and Sons in August 2018, which led to the closure of 18 of its 26 shops and the loss of more than 100 jobs.

Writing in new accounts for Aulds Holdings at Companies House, directors say trading in the retail sector has improved since the liquidation of Thomas Auld, adding that the group has “returned to profitable trading” following the insolvency.

Aulds Holdings made a pre-tax loss of £43,497 for the year ended March 30, after losing £231,017 the year before. Turnover dropped to £13.5 million from £15.8m.

The accounts show the group recorded a gain of £458,389 on the liquidation of the subsidiary.

According to the accounts, average staff numbers dropped to 313 from 414, with payroll costs falling by about £1m to £5.3m. But bosses note Brexit presented challenges. “Uncertainty due to Brexit continues to affect all markets, raising pressure on ingredient costs and stockholding costs and will continue to do so while uncertainty remains,” the directors state.

While Aulds’ slimmed down its retail presence, bosses say the group has expanded the production of frozen desserts for the foodservice market and bakery products for the convenience store sector.

“The group continued to invest in personnel and equipment to facilitate growth in its key markets during 2019,” the directors added.

At time of Thomas Auld’s liquidation, managing director Alan Marr said the group had been “simply unable to sustain the losses being made by the retail business. We’re extremely pleased that we’ve been able to preserve 75 roles as part of this process and keep the Aulds brands on the high street,” he added.

Aulds’ eight remaining are located across Greenock, Gourock, Largs, Johnstone, Glasgow and Paisley.