Jobs saved at East Anglian duck plant

Jobs have been saved at an East Anglian duck processing firm after it was bought out of administration.

Manor Farm Ducklings, Thetford, Norfolk had been forced to call in administrators in July after hitting financial difficulties.

Almost 200 jobs at the company were thought to be at risk but now the business has been taken over by Gressingham Foods of Woodbridge, Suffolk, which supplies into Sainsbury’s and Budgens and other catering outlets.

John Buckman, the former owner of Manor Farm Ducklings, said the company had been hit by a doubling of wheat prices since he took the business over in 2004.

Mr Buckman said: “When we bought the business we rebuilt it and it has now become profitable. The problem was that we were not in a position to forward buy wheat, unlike our competitors, and the price has shot up.

“Wheat prices have risen from around £65 a tonne in 2004 when we acquired the business to £115 a tonne this year.

“The increase in wheat prices put another £1m on our costs and we were unable to raise our prices to the supermarkets and other customers.”

Looking to the future William Buchanan, Gressingham Foods commercial director, commented: “We are delighted to have acquired Manor Farm Ducklings. We have taken on the farms and are

assessing what to do with the factory. We are consulting with staff, but it is too early to say what is going to happen.

“Manor Farms Ducklings has a very good customer base in retailer and wholesale and we see the acquisition as a fantastic opportunity. We are a family run business and are looking to grow our operations.

“Manor Farm was particularly strong supplying Chinese supermarkets and restaurants and gives us an opportunity to go into that market.”