A SEAFOOD supplier, whose client list is a "who's who" of leading fish restaurants, has gone into administration, putting 40 jobs at risk.

MacCallums of Troon, which owns the award-winning Wee Hurrie fish and chip restaurant in Ayrshire, ran into cash flow difficulties arising from bad debts.

Its difficulties are believed to reflect the challenges that independent restaurateurs have continued to face since the financial downturn, exacerbated by a spate of openings by UK-wide chains in recent years.

The MacCallums outlets are continuing to be traded by joint administrators Ian Wright and Scott Milne, of Glasgow-based WRI Associates, who hope to sell the business as a going concern.

Talks have been held with interested parties, the administrators said.

Mr Milne said it was "business as usual" for MacCallums in the meantime, and signalled the administrators' view that it is a "profitable" concern.

He said: "We are looking at disposing it either to one person 'in whole' or to whoever wants to buy bits of it. We are still trading, there have been no redundancies to date. We're hopeful of a going concern sale [for] all of it - if not to one person [then] across the piece."

Mr Milne added: "We think this is fundamentally a good business - it has just had some cash flow difficulties due to bad debts, [with] restaurants and other customers themselves going into insolvency processes, or just shutting down and not paying."

The administrator confirmed that seafood suppliers were the company's biggest creditors, though information was not yet available on the firm's debts.

Mr Milne said the main priorities of the administration process were to preserve the business, save the jobs, and secure the best outcome for the creditors.

MacCallums of Troon was founded by brothers James and John MacCallum more than 30 years ago.

Initially trading as fish and chip shop operators, they moved into wholesaling to supply their own outlets, as well as other restaurants.

The business now includes an oyster bar, award-winning fish and chip shops such as the Wee Hurrie and the Wee Fry in Troon and Bearsden, and a wholesale operation in Glasgow.

Mr Milne described its clients as a "who's who" of Glasgow restaurants, with the acclaimed Gamba in West George Street and The Finnieston on Argyle Street among its customers.

Mr Milne said: "You name a Glasgow seafood restaurant and they will have been or are being supplied by MacCallum, just because they cover everything, right across the whole spectrum of fish and shellfish."

News of MacCallums' difficulties was met with sadness among Glasgow restaurant operators.

Ryan James, chairman of the Glasgow Restaurant Association, hailed MacCallum's as one of the industry's most respected suppliers, and suggested its problems were down to the "economics at play at the moment in the supply chain".

He said this was partly caused by so many big chains coming into the city which place a major focus on driving down procurement costs.

Mr James said: "My message to restaurateurs would be to support your local supplier. If we don't the day will dawn when they won't be there anymore, and if they go what are we left with?"

The joint administrators said in a statement: "MacCallums of Troon Limited is an established and well-regarded business, and its restaurants in Troon and Bearsden are extremely popular with both visitors and local residents alike.

"Its Glasgow-based wholesale operation supplies a number of well-known restaurants in Glasgow and surrounding areas. The company's directors, James and John MacCallum have been in the seafood business for over 30 years.

"The information available to the joint administrators suggests that this is fundamentally a profitable business, however cash flow difficulties have recently arisen from bad debts and the failure of certain customers to make payment within agreed terms.

"This has given rise to rising creditor pressure, necessitating the administration appointment being made with the intention of best protecting the business and preserving jobs via a going concern sale."

No one from MacCallums was available for comment.