The company has seen a meteoric rise over the past few years, following a string of high-profile acquisitions – including Northern Foods. But, has it bitten off more than it can chew? That's certainly the view of several senior industry commentators who believe the most recent acquisitions from Vion and Premier Foods were steps too far.
There is no doubt that Boparan gets recognition from his industry peers for much of what he has achieved and his focus on providing excellent service to retail customers. But with the recent loss of business from its Avana Bakeries factory, formerly owned by Premier Foods; 230 further jobs losses at the former Vion plant at Coupar Angus in Scotland; and industrial unrest at other factories, the question must be asked: could Boparan’s focus be drifting?
The Avana site’s loss of a contract with Marks & Spencer to Park Cakes has threatened the future of the plant and around 650 jobs in Newport, Wales. Avana had to sell its Christmas pudding business for the Competition Commission to agree the acquisition of the Brookes Avana business from Premier Foods. One source said this was a serious blow to the factory.
More recently, news emerged of a threat to about 900 jobs at 2SFG’s Solway Foods (formerly owned by Northern Foods) factory in Corby, which could also face closure.
Maybe it’s all part of a grand plan to consolidate 2SFG’s various businesses into more streamlined operations. But if that’s the case, the cost in human terms is huge.