Turkey firm Bernard Matthews to invest £10M

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bernard matthews, Anaerobic digestion

Not just for Christmas: Bernard Matthews reports sales outside the festive period up 8%
Not just for Christmas: Bernard Matthews reports sales outside the festive period up 8%
Turkey producer Bernard Matthews plans to invest £10M this year in factory expansion, plant upgrades and an anaerobic digestor.

The firm has earmarked £3M for the expansion of its factory in Great Witchingham, Norfolk.

A spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that a further £3M will be devoted to improving processing lines for specific product ranges at its two production facilities in Norfolk and Suffolk and to farm investment.

“Every year Bernard Matthews makes a number of small investments in improving production processes and supply chain efficiency,”​ he said. “The £3M in total will be spent in small chunks of around £50,000 across all of Bernard Matthew’s processing sites and farms.”

The turkey producer will also invest £4M on a new anaerobic digestion plant at its facility at Holton, Suffolk.

Digester

If planning permission is granted, the digester will process 28,000t of waste and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2,800t each year. When fully commissioned, it will supply about 13% of the site’s electricity as well as 10% of its heat.

Meanwhile, Bernard Matthews recently posted an operating loss of £6.6M in the 18 months to July 2011 compared with a profit of £2.5M profit in the previous period.

The firm blamed the loss on high global feed costs, the slow European economy and extreme winter weather in 2010/2011, which had slowed the growth of birds.

But Noel Bartram, the group’s chief executive reported strong Christmas sales leading to an improved performance.“Nine months into our current financial year and I am pleased to report that the UK business is showing some encouraging results so far with profits having recovered to their highest levels since 2006,”​ said Bartram.

“Trading over Christmas 2011 was strong and we are increasing the capital investment in the UK business significantly in 2012. The rest of the group is trading in line with expectations.”

A campaign to persuade people to eat turkey throughout the year appeared to be paying off, with consumption excluding Christmas increasing by 8%.

Health and affordability

“We believe there remains significant potential for growing turkey consumption in the UK as the meat continues to match consumer trends on health and affordability,”​ said Bartram.

“Turkey consumption per capita in the UK is also only a third of that in the US and less than half of that in France, Germany and Italy. That said, the economic outlook remains uncertain and household spending continues to be squeezed. In light of this, we continue to review our cost base.”

The results are the first since the manufacturer moved the ending of its financial period to July. The change in reporting was made due to the highly seasonal nature of its business.

“Moving the year end away from the key​ [festive] season will enable the group to plan and budget more effectively having the benefit of the knowledge of the most recent Christmas performance,”​ said the firm.

Bernard Matthews based in Norfolk, employs more than 2,100 people and produces 7M turkeys a year.

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