Thirty former staff members who worked for many years at food and specialist store Ivans of Caherdavin in Limerick are staging a sit-in.

They are occupying the store in a row over pay cheques and redundancy entitlements following the sudden closure of the business earlier this week.

Ivans announced last Monday that it was closing after 38 years in business, blaming tough trading conditions.

The store ran a delicatessen and bakery and also had an expansive catering business with customers throughout Limerick city and Co Clare.

The former workers, many of whom were employed there for 20 years, said they were given no notice of the closure and learned of it without warning on Sunday night.

Pay cheques they were paid last Friday have not been honoured, they said.

They also said they have been given no proper documentation about redundancy rights or about terminating their employment, which they need to be able to claim social welfare.

Many customers who placed orders for celebration cakes and paid for them have been left in the lurch, according to the former workers.

The group plans to continue their occupation until their demands about pay and redundancy entitlements are met.

In a statement issued today, Ivan Cremins, Founder and Managing Director of the business, said he and his family "are devastated by the sad turn of events".

He went on to explain that while trading conditions had been "extremely difficult for some time", the pressures that necessitated the eventual closure on Sunday were "sudden and unplanned".

He said he and the Cremins family particularly regretted the shock and inconvenience that this had caused to the staff.

"They can be assured, and have been assured, that they will receive all their entitlements and the necessary arrangements are being made to put this in place" Mr Cremins said.

The directors are in discussions with bankers to establish the most appropriate way to bring an orderly conclusion to the affairs of the company, according to the statement.