Poultry plant to close as company restructures

A major UK chicken processor has blamed the rising costs of wheat and fuel for the likely closure of a processing plant near Sutton Benger, Wiltshire as it seeks to concentrate production at its other plants.

The restructuring plans of Faccenda Group would see a £3m investment in its Brackley plant, making it one of Europe’s biggest, and £2m in its sites in Telford and Dudley.

Managing director Ian Faccenda said the company needed to act now, to ensure it remained competitive in the future.

In a statement the company said the market for processing and supplying chicken was becoming increasingly challenging and that Faccenda must continue to cut costs if it was to remain competitive.

It said the company could meet the demand for chicken by using three sites rather than four by investing in new technology and equipment.

Mr Faccenda added: “We’re operating in a very competitive market, where the cost of wheat and fuels has increased considerably over th epast 12 months. We have to make changes for the long-term health of our business.

Closure of the Sutton Benger plant could lead to the potential loss of 450 jobs. He added: “While this has been a difficult decision for us to take, by restructuring now, we’re strengthening the business for the future.”

A 90-day consultation period follows the announcement.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that a preferred bidder has emerged for Grampian Country Food GroupVion. It is a Dutch rival with over 7300 employees and a turnover of €6.4b (£5b) from 45 production sites in its fresh meat division. Vion currently deals only in pork, beef and lamb.