By Dr Steve McCabe, Birmingham City Business School 

Today’s announcement that the local bakery company Firkins has closed down with the loss of 100 jobs is, as always, a tragedy for the families affected by a sudden loss of income.

Firkins is a company that will be very familiar to those who live in the West Midlands as it has been going for just under 150 years having been founded in 1870 in West Bromwich.

It’s been around for so long that generations have grown up buying its products; especially the seductive cakes.

That Firkins has been on the verge of collapse for quite some time tells us that trading in the high street is not getting any easier; quite the opposite.

There are no guaranteed ways to survive in trading conditions which mean that unless what you offer is incredibly distinctive you have to be cheaper than the competitors.

What this means is that there is a dog eat dog mentality that simply results in only the very fittest surviving.

Sadly, it seems, whilst we as customers benefit from ever cheaper products, the end result is that we have even less choice which is not good.

Firkin’s existence for almost a century and a half is to be consigned to history and customers will buy their bread and cakes from elsewhere; probably from one of the large supermarkets.

The vagaries of the modern world mean that small and medium-sized independent businesses such as Firkins are possibly over.

But as we know from experience when an old friend moves away or dies we suddenly realise we’ll miss them.

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Dr Steve McCabe

Dr Steve McCabe

Birmingham City Business School
Dr Steve McCabe

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