2 Sisters development underlines Boparan’s shrewdness

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sisters food group, Scottish national party, Scotland, Ranjit boparan

2 Sisters took on Vion’s UK red meat and poultry business in March
2 Sisters took on Vion’s UK red meat and poultry business in March
Positive developments at 2 Sisters Food Group plants in Scotland and Wales are more evidence of ceo Ranjit Boparan’s shrewdness, according to industry commentator Julian Wild of law firm Rollits.

Boparan received widespread plaudits for spearheading the takeover​ of meat processing giant Vion’s 11 UK red meat and poultry plants in March after Vion quit the market. 2 Sisters’ sites in Anglesey, Wales, and Cambuslang in Scotland formed part of that deal, which followed a venture capital-backed management buyout of Vion’s pork operations.

Now the Scottish government has offered cash backing for Cambuslang to safeguard jobs there following discussions and 2 Sisters plans to double the workforce and production at Llangefny, Anglesey.

“Ranjit Boparan is a very smart operator,”​ Wild told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “Where there are good plants Ranjit will invest in them and move forward.”

However, Boparan was just as capable of making difficult decisions in other areas, he cautioned, so future consolidation would not be surprising.

Demand for British food

The discovery earlier this year of horsemeat from overseas plants in beef products from other manufacturers had grown demand for British food, a situation 2 Sisters was well-placed to capitalise on, said Wild.

“Ranjit is in a very strong position because he’s got a strong position in UK poultry and red meat as a result of the Vion deal.”

2 Sisters had been at loggerheads with representatives from union Unite over conditions associated with increasing the workload at Llangefny, north Wales.

However, it has now cleared proposals previously aired​ to run an extra shift. Earlier estimates suggested this would create 200 jobs and this has now been revised to 300.

The move comes two months after Vion’s Welsh Country Foods abattoir in Gaerwen, which was excluded from the acquisition, closed resulting in more than 300 employees losing their jobs.

Local press reports suggested many may now be able to get new positions at Llangefny.

But a sombre 2 Sisters statement on the development echoed Wild’s caution: “In order to meet customer requirements and protect the site’s long term future, the company has decided to introduce a permanent back shift to run in conjunction with current shift patterns.

“This will secure more than 300 additional jobs at the site. Whilst this is good news this is the first stage in the turnaround plan for the Vion businesses which remain loss making, and consequently, we remain cautious for the future.”

The future of Cambuslang

Meanwhile, in a recent debate in the Scottish parliament, Scottish MP for Rutherglen James Kelly asked Scottish finance minister John Swinney about the future of Cambuslang.

“The government has made an offer of financial assistance to the 2 Sisters Food Group,”​ said Swinney. “But it is conditional on its sustaining the current level of employment at the operations that the group has acquired.

“The government continues to take a close interest in the steps that are being taken to implement the transaction.”

2 Sisters responded cautiously. “We are in the early stages of our ownership. The Vion business is loss making and faced an uncertain future prior to 2 Sisters’ ownership. We are trying to improve performance and are working with the Scottish government to see how they can support us.”

Meanwhile, in the same session, Maureen Watt, Scottish MP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, added: “Will the cabinet secretary join me in congratulating what is now the latest 2 Sisters Food Group meat processing plant in Portlethen in my constituency …”

Tesco was strongly backing the operation, she said. “Tesco, which already takes most of its meat products, had agreed to market premium, high value meat products in its leading stores.”

This, said Watt, acknowledged the increasing demand for Scotland’s top-quality beef “which is good news for retailers, processors and producers alike”.

The industry awaits news of the fate of workers at 2 Sisters’ five West Midlands sites at Smethwick, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton after Unite revealed​ job losses were on the cards there.

Consultations between the union and management continue.

Related news

Show more

Related suppliers

1 comment

decent feeding

Posted by john wilson,

Dear Mr Boparan, why not be the first in uk to have chicken on supermarket shelves soya free? Nothing good can be said for soya feed. Sunflower meal I have a site in Ukraine where plenty is grown. Also the finisher pellets you use as feed contain whole wheat, which creates waste.

Report abuse