Announcing a 90-day consultation with unions and workers today (July 5), Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said: “This is an extremely sad day and one we have strenuously tried to avoid for the past four years, but the huge losses being incurred mean we believe we have no alternative.
“Every possible step has been taken to secure the future of the business but we are currently losing £79,000 per day at the site, which is clearly unsustainable.”
There was significant over-capacity in the UK meat industry and market conditions were “extremely challenging” he added.
Barr said that over the past four years, Vion had restructured the plant, invested heavily in the site and brought in new management to stem the losses. But the plant remains “very heavily in the red”.
Hall’s employs 1,150 permanent and 595 agency staff, handling 8,000 pigs each week.
Unless the consultation resulted in a viable way forward, some of the work from the plant would be transferred to other Vion UK plants, said Barr. “However, the market conditions are so severe that we will cease to supply the majority of products currently handled by this plant. We will make every endeavour to identify other Scottish producers who may be able to produce some of these products,” he added.
If the plant closure is confirmed, the firm would take all practical steps to work with the relevant agencies to minimise the impact on jobs and local economies.
Impact on jobs
“Clearly, our Halls of Broxburn site is a major market for the Scottish pig farming industry and we would, therefore, hope to extend the timeframe for any closure plan for the abattoir at the site in order to help minimise the potential impact on Scottish pig farmers,” said Barr.
The firm said it had invested in a modern apprenticeship scheme at the plant with support from the Scottish government. “While we were extremely grateful for the support offered, clearly, in the circumstances, we have not and will not be drawing on those funds,” said Barr.
The plant was bought by Vion Food Group in August 2008 when it acquired the troubled Grampian Country Food Group, which had been in financial difficulties for several years.
Vion UK employs nearly 12,000 staff at 40 facilities across the country. The firm produces and processes beef, lamb, pork and chicken, plus sausages, cooked meats and other convenience products.
In mid June it announced 340 job cuts at Vion Food Netherlands and 290 job cuts at Vion Food Germany.
Vion has two core activities: food and ingredients. The group has a turnover of euro 9.5bn and the company employs 26,500 staff across Europe.
To read more about Vion’s restructuring, click here.