The West

A pet food manufacturer has bought the collapsed Darrell Lea confectionary business and shut the remaining Darrell Lea stores, resulting in the loss of more than 400 jobs nationwide.

Queensland-based VIP Petfoods, which is owned by the Quinn family, will continue to manufacture and distribute Darrell Lea products for sale through third-party retailers.

An estimated 28 people will lose their jobs when WA's last two Darrell Lea stores, in Booragoon and Midland, close their doors on Sunday.

While administrator PBB Advisory said all outstanding wages and superannuation would be paid in full, sacked staff may need to rely on a Federal Government scheme to secure other entitlements.

An employee at one Perth store said there had been tears among colleagues when they were told of the closures yesterday. "It's quite devastating for some of them," the staff member said.

"They walk in and tell you you no longer have a job but please keep trading until Sunday. It's quite cold.

"We were under the impression that they were trying hard to sell us to somebody who would keep the stores."

PPB Advisory said the retail outlets had been loss-makers for a number of years and did not attract significant interest during the sale.

It said 83 people would be offered jobs in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution operations.

"The result is the best outcome that could have been achieved in these circumstances," PPB Advisory's Mark Robinson said.

VIP Petfood founder Tony Quinn once ran a lawnmowing business in Perth after arriving from Britain with plans to start a signwriting business.

The pet food business has a reported turnover of $300 million and exports worldwide.

"Our company has a strong history of building sustainable Australian-based businesses and it is our aim to do the same with Darrell Lea," a Quinn family spokesman said.

The Lea family, which founded the company, said it had, to the best of its ability, acted to protect the interests of staff, licensees, suppliers and other stakeholders.

The West Australian

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