One of the South West's best-known butchery chains has collapsed with debts reportedly running into millions of pounds.
Gerald David & Family, based in Minehead, went into liquidation at the end of last week, leaving more than 50 staff facing an uncertain future and reportedly forcing the closure of five stores.
Three of the company's eight shops have been reportedly kept open while administrators try and sell the business to a new buyer.
The stores were all supplied from the company's own abattoir in Porlock. There were other outlets, including at Darts Farm, Topsham and a mobile unit which appeared at shows such as the Devon County. Mr David, who started with one side-street shop in the 1970s, drove a Bentley and clients were invited to weekends aboard his ocean-going cruiser.
But there were less successful ventures, a lingerie business, a wet fish shop, and two hotels, which ultimately failed.
Matters started to go badly wrong last year when the company was fined and ordered to pay costs of £15,000 after being prosecuted by Trading Standards. The company had built its reputation on sourcing beef and lamb from Exmoor. But a lengthy investigation revealed some of what was being sold as local meat had come from animals bought in the Midlands.
Earlier this year Mr David retired and went to live in Spain, handing everything over to sons Alistair and Philip. The abattoir was reported as having closed after a dispute with meat inspectors over unpaid bills, and unsold goods and equipment were removed from most of the shops.
The David family has not been available for comment.