The Malton firm employs almost 200 people is best-known for its ‘Westlers’ branded hotdogs, but also produces canned and pouched food products for a series of other brands including Multi Menu, Tyne, BigMex, Chesswood, Military Rations and Compleat.
It supplies branded and own-label products to supermarkets, schools, hospitals, as well as funfairs, cinemas and other leisure venues; it also manufactures survival rations and pouches for emergency and outdoor markets, including the British Army.
KPMG has been appointed to oversee the firm’s sale, and joint administrators Howard Smith and Mark Firmin are hopeful of selling what they describe as a “profitable business” as a going concern.
Pension deficit problems
According to KPMG: “The administration has been triggered by the company’s inability to fund its defined benefit pension scheme.
“An evaluation in early 2009 found a funding gap of more than £15m which the company has since sought to address. However, despite attempts involving internal and external investment, this has not proved possible.”
Smith, KPMG restructuring associate partner, said: “This is an uncommon and unfortunate situation of a well run and profitable business being compelled to enter insolvency specifically because of the scale of its pension deficit.
“The company has a number of extremely interesting contracts so we are trading the business as a going concern while seeking a buyer.”
However, KPMG added that they have already made nine staff not directly involved in production redundant.
Family-owned Westlers was founded in 1960 and initially produced canned frankfurters; while hotdogs are its key product, the firm now produces over 240 different products.