MORE than 70 people are believed to have lost their jobs after an award-winning theatre and training company hit financial trouble.

CragRats, based in Holmfirth, is understood to have told staff on Friday that it was going into administration.

The cafe bar, in the same former mill building on Dunford Road, is also thought to have closed.

But CragRats Brasserie, on Sheffield Road at Hepworth, remains open for business. Its bosses say it is not at risk and all bookings will be honoured.

News of the problems came exactly two months after CragRats bosses took the decision to cut the working week to four days and pay staff 80% of their salaries to try to safeguard 74 jobs.

But Anna Whittaker, who manages the CragRats Brasserie, said the announcement still came as a shock.

She said: “CragRats have gone into receivership, they are no more.

“It’s devastating, everyone has put so much into the business over the years. The decision was made by the directors to pay off suppliers and shut it down.

“I think everyone was shocked.

“We all understand why it’s happened – in an economic climate like this, training is the first thing that businesses strip back to save money. But that doesn’t make it any easier.”

But Mrs Whittaker said the brasserie had bookings until 2011.

She said: “We are a viable business, we are separate from that arm of the business, we have a number of events and weddings booked in and they will be honoured.

“I don’t want people to think that we are affected or that they are going to lose their money. We are absolutely fine.”

CragRats was set up in 1991 to provide learning and training for the public and private sectors across the UK.

As well as its full-time staff, it used hundreds of professional actors on a freelance basis to take part in training sessions on issues like health and safety, equality and diversity, leadership and management and team working.

Clients included the NHS, BT and Asda.

The company won a string of awards and regularly featured in the Sunday Times list of the best 100 small companies to work for.

Jason McCartney, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Colne Valley and a former journalist, worked on a number of projects for the firm.

He said: “It’s incredibly sad.

“I thought they were an extremely vibrant and innovative company and that they would have what it takes to survive an economic downturn, so it’s a real shock.”

Holme Valley North councillor Ken Sims added: “It’s a blow for Holmfirth. It’s sad when any business goes under and this seems to be a case of another one biting the dust. Perhaps they overstretched themselves.”

The company’s directors could not be contacted at the weekend.

Have you been affected by the problems at Cragrats? Contact Nick Lavigueur on 01484 437714 or e-mail: