1,000 jobs have been saved at Banham Poultry, after Chesterfield Poultry bought the business in a pre-pack administration deal.
The Norfolk-based plant purchase has ended much speculation about the factory’s future, as Bernard Matthews had also declared an interest in acquiring it once their administration was announced.
The site in Attleborough went into what was described as a “perfect storm” of problems according to administrator Duff & Phelps. This included pressure from supermarket margins, increases in feed prices, and too much capital expenditure leading to an impact on the company’s short-term profitability. The Foulger family had owned Banham for more than 50 years before they sadly had to let go of the £150 million per year turnover.
The site handles around 7% of the UK poultry market, with roughly 1.2 million birds being processed a week. It covers all of the manufacturing jobs throughout the process, as birds are reared from egg to chick to maturity. They are then slaughtered and prepared for sale: both fresh and frozen ranges are sold in independent outlets and supermarkets across the UK. They also produce some materials for export.
Chairman and managing director Michael Foulger said: “The Foulger Family are very pleased to have secured a deal with Chesterfield Poultry to ensure the long-term future of Banham and secure the continued employment of a very loyal workforce, which was always at the forefront of any negotiations.”
Nadeem Iqbal, the chief executive of Chesterfield Poultry, added: “We are delighted to welcome Banham into the Chesterfield family and look forward to continuing the legacy of the brand and quality poultry production in Attleborough.”
Allan Graham and Trevor Birch from Duff & Phelps were appointed as joint administrators, covering both Banham Poultry Ltd and Banham Group Ltd. Banham Poultry covered the processing arm of the business, while Banham Group was in charge of rearing the poultry.
Graham explained that the business was under a lot of pressure in a short period of time, which led to no possibility of it continuing.
“It had been undertaking a number of capital projects designed to improve productivity in the longer term, but these have impacted short-term profitability, which in turn has hit margin,” he said. “The sale of the business – covering all assets, employees on permanent contracts, a hatchery and farms and processing plants at Banham – is a success. The swift conclusion of this sale has enabled Duff & Phelps to secure the future of over 1,100 employees, ensuring no break in processing and animal husbandry, guaranteeing the continued supply of high quality poultry to the UK food industry.”
Coinciding with the sale was a difficult week for Banham Poultry. Not only had those in food jobs at the site just been told that they might not have employment if the company could not find a buyer, but there was also an industrial incident at the premises which was serious enough to warrant the halting of local train services and the involvement of the police.
It was, however, a very fortuitous week for Chesterfield Poultry. Getting the site at a bargain price, along with everything needed to run it – and a process which has seen no halt in manufacturing despite the sale – means that they will now be able to reap the full benefit of those long-term investments which have been put into place by the previous owners.
They will now be able to enjoy what may likely be increased profits in years to come as a result of the added assets, which will add to their already substantial market position.