MYSTERY surrounds the fate of a century-old Kendal mint cake and confectionery business which was rescued from the brink of extinction less than a year ago.

Creative Confectionery was formed in June 2015 from the ashes of long-established J E Wilson & Sons after the company entered administration.

Andrew Wilson, the managing director of J E Wilson and grandson of its founder, set up Creative Confectionary (Holme) Ltd to buy the business for an undisclosed fee and take it out of administration – saving more than 100 jobs.

But now the firm's Elmsfield Business Park factory is standing idle and the Gazette has been told, unofficially, that all the staff have been 'laid off'.

The factory and offices were locked when the newspaper tried to make contact with the company and no-one was answering phone calls or e-mails to the head office.

Despite exhaustive efforts, the Gazette has been unable to contact either managing director Mr Wilson or co-director Richard Jennings.

Neither Cumbria Chamber of Commerce nor South Lakeland District Council was aware of any problems at the company.

Similarly, Holme Parish Council and Beetham Parish Council had heard nothing from the firm.

Local county and district councillor Roger Bingham was equally in the dark when contacted by the Gazette.

Wilson’s began with a small shop in Kendal High Street in 1913 and from humble beginnings expanded into a company manufacturing more than two million chocolates a week from six production lines.

Mr Wilson said the production of Kendal Mint Cake made up just two per cent of its business and that in the past 25 years the company had expanded into other product ranges, such as truffles and macaroons.

It transferred its production to Holme in 2013 in a bid to keep up with demand and help grow the business.

But Mr Wilson said last June that following the factory move anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and JE Wilson and Sons had a debt burden that was impossible to meet.

The uncertainty saw the company enter into administration but a deal was agreed to mark the start of a new era for the business – one of three remaining makers of the famous Kendal Mint Cake.

On completion of the deal, he said the future was looking up for the company.

"We have never been busier which is the irony of the situation. We have got a very exciting future ahead of us with lots of growth plans to move the business forward.," he told the Gazette.

But this week the production line has stopped and even neighbours on the Elmsfield Business Park said they knew nothing about the apparent closure of the business.

Cllr Bingham, who represents Burton and Holme, said: "To lose one of the makers of an iconic product like Kendal mint cake it to lose a big part of our heritage and I regret it deeply if that is the case. I will certainly champion anybody who wishes o try to save this business."