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Bernard Matthews could benefit from jobs and investment from Scottish factory closure

PUBLISHED: 16:48 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 10 May 2018

Bernard Matthews factory and Great Witchingham Hall.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Bernard Matthews factory and Great Witchingham Hall. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

The potential closure of a poultry factory in Scotland could see jobs and investment come to East Anglia as work is outsourced to Bernard Matthews.

Bernard Matthews eponymous founder at Great Witchingham Hall.
 Picture: Keiron TovellBernard Matthews eponymous founder at Great Witchingham Hall. Picture: Keiron Tovell

2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) is closing its facility in Cambuslang and is now consulting with workers facing redundancy to see if they can be relocated to other locations, including the turkey producer’s site at Great Witchingham site in Norfolk.

2 Sisters Food Group is owned by Ranjit Singh Boparan, who bought Bernard Matthews in September 2016 through his investment vehicle Boparan Private Office.

Bernard Matthews, which has production sites and poultry farms in Norfolk and Suffolk, has said it is too early to know what scale of change might come as a result of the move at this stage.

However, the news of business moving to East Anglia is likely to be seen as a sign of confidence in the company after a period of tough trading which led to its sale in 2016.

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: “We are very pleased to confirm that Bernard Matthews has been formally approached to provide product for 2 Sisters Food Group’s added value poultry ranges.

“The business is currently exploring this outsourcing opportunity which is likely to be incorporated into its site at Great Witchingham in Norfolk.

“There is still a great deal of preparatory work to do before the operation is ‘live’, but we anticipate the first products to be coming out of the factory in the coming weeks.”

Bernard Matthews was bought out of administration by the Boparan Private Office for £84.9m. At the time the company employed around 2,000 people but its workforce now numbers around 1,500.

The ‘pre-pack’ deal was controversial as it saw debts to creditors written off and the pensions lifeboat left to plug a gap in the company’s pension scheme.

In the 10 months to January 2017 the company turned over £82.4m, generating a pre-tax profit of £1.66m.

The business has a long heritage in Norfolk having been founded by Bernard Matthews from his home with 20 turkey eggs and an incubator in 1950 before moving to its Great Witchingham Hall home five years later, but ran into a series of health and animal welfare crises in the 2000s, leading to changes of ownership.

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