Darrell Lea employees were left dumbstruck and in tears after being abruptly told the chocolate retailer had been put into administration.
Staff say they were given no warning that the company was in such financial peril before being informed at a meeting on Tuesday morning that the firm was up for sale.
Christine Bailey, who's worked at the Darrell Lea factory in south Sydney for 13 years, says staff were devastated after being told the news at a meeting in the canteen.
"People were just dumbstruck. They didn't know how to handle it," she told reporters outside the factory on Tuesday.
"I saw one girl from admin (who) was crying."
But while the announcement came out of the blue, Ms Bailey said there had been signs the company was struggling.
"This year there doesn't seem to be too much production, and we thought it was a little bit odd," she said.
The directors of Darrell Lea on Tuesday appointed PPB Advisory as voluntary administrators of the business.
About 700 jobs are at risk at the chocolate retailer's manufacturing base in Sydney and across its 1800 shops in Australia, New Zealand and United States.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said Darrell Lea should have been more transparent about its financial woes.
"Management here have shared nothing with us about any difficulties they were facing, about any possibility of going into administration," said Jennifer Dowell, National Secretary of AMWU Food and Confectionary Division.
She said the union would meet with factory employees on Tuesday afternoon, and would be seeking further talks with the administrators.
The AMWU would also be in contact with Fair Work Australia regarding workers entitlements, Ms Dowell said.
Earlier, PPB Advisory's Mark Robinson said an urgent review of the business was under way, with the hope it could be sold.
"We will work with all stakeholders, including employees and their representatives, licensees, customers and suppliers, to ensure the business continues to operate effectively," he said in a statement.