After Vion announced the closure of the meat plant with the loss of 1,700 jobs on Tuesday (October 16), Steve Green, md of the Graf Mortgage Corporation, slammed the decision as “absolutely ridiculous”. He claimed his firm had submitted a seven-figure bid for the plant.
“Certainly 1,200 permanent employees’ jobs could be saved and we would do what we could to keep as many seasonal workers as possible,” Green told BBC News.
Vion “never had any intention whatsoever of selling this business”, he claimed.
‘I am appalled’
But Peter Barr, chairman of Vion UK, said in a statement: “I am appalled at the serious inaccuracies and, in several cases, blatant untruths included in Mr Green’s comments. As we have already stated, Vion was prepared to offer substantial financial assistance to support the acquisition.”
Barr said Green had referred to “a seven-figure bid to buy the factory” tabled by Graf Mortgage Corporation but made “no mention of his demand that Vion pay him an eight-figure sum, in cash, to take over the business”.
Green had also failed to mention that he had asked for all equipment, vehicles, stock and transitional services to be provided to him at no cost, claimed Vion.
“In spite of this demand for tens of millions of pounds, Mr Green has been unwilling to provide us with the most basic information to validate his proposal to safeguard the ongoing employment of the workforce,” said Barr.
Barr went on to dismiss Green’s claim that there were “no lawyers or accountants involved in the failed bid”.
Vion had in-house finance and legal teams and therefore, had no requirement for external advisers, he added.
Barr said: “Mr Green states that he ‘can save the 1,700 jobs’. This statement is in direct contradiction to an email sent to our finance director on Sunday October 14, in which he states: ‘reduction in head count at Broxburn would be in the region of 500−800’."
Vion also denied claims it had:
- Denied access to the site.
- Denied due diligence procedure on the failed bid.
- Said the firm would no longer source or breed Scottish pigs.
Barr said Green “stated in an email to our finance director on October 14 that: ‘There is very little science to our delivery on business plans, just dogged determination.’ We find it incredible that he has failed to prepare a detailed plan for his financial backers and cannot understand why he is unwilling to share this plan with us or with the Scottish government.”
Barr said Green’s “only achievement has been to raise false hopes among our employees that the plant could be saved”.
Meanwhile, Green said he is considering legal action following the failure of his bid.