The beleaguered Hall’s of Broxburn meat processing plant will close by February 2013, owners Vion UK have confirmed.

Two bids to buy the plant, which employs 1,700 people and processes more than 70% of Scottish pig meat, have been rejected and the phased closure of the plant will commence this month.

“As we announced last week, the company received two offers for the Hall’s of Broxburn site prior to Friday’s deadline,” said Vion UK chairman Peter Barr.

“Regrettably, having reviewed both offers over the weekend we have been forced to conclude that neither of these proposals constitutes a viable and sustainable alternative to the proposed closure of the plant.

“In neither instance were we assured that either offer provided a guarantee of ongoing employment for the workforce, in spite of the fact that Vion was prepared to offer substantial financial assistance to support the acquisition.”

It was a very sad day for the company, but with losses of £79,000 a day, it would not be viable to continue production, he added.

“As previously outlined, this will mean that some areas will cease production later this month with full closure expected to take place by February 2013,” said Mr Barr.

“The Scottish pig industry must now move forward into a new chapter which will see the opportunity to restructure pig processing in Scotland from which I am confident the industry will emerge even stronger and sharper.”
Jim McLaren, Quality Meat Scotland, chairman

“We have already had detailed discussions with our employees and their union representatives to brief them fully on details of the enhanced redundancy terms on offer to them and to outline our plans to support them in the coming months.”

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said the announcement marked an end to an “unwelcome period of uncertainty” about the plant’s future.

“The Scottish pig industry must now move forward into a new chapter which will see the opportunity to restructure pig processing in Scotland from which I am confident the industry will emerge even stronger and sharper,” he said.

“The planned closure of the site must be seen as an opportunity for a step change in the structure of the Scottish pig industry and pig producers must take heart from the prospect of a new and more efficient supply chain.”

Discussions with a number of other plant operators, currently processing pigs, had proved promising, he added.

“I am optimistic about the potential for these companies to absorb a significant portion of the pig processing capacity currently undertaken at Broxburn, taking advantage of the Specially Selected Pork brand which is generating record consumer awareness,” said Mr McLaren.

Retailer support was vital at this time – the next step was for QMS to work with these companies, government and NFU Scotland to ensure the opportunities were fully developed as soon as possible, he added. Clearly retailer support is also vital at this time.

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