Turkey manufacturer Bernard Matthews ‘up for sale’

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Turkey manufacturer Bernard Matthews is believed to be looking to sell
Turkey manufacturer Bernard Matthews is believed to be looking to sell

Related tags: Bernard matthews, Norfolk

Europe’s largest turkey product manufacturer Bernard Matthews is believed to be up for sale, following a year of “disappointing results”.

According to reports, Bernard Matthews’ staff were notified by email on Wednesday (June 28), that advisors had been appointed to check out prospective buyers. It said that the company had experienced disappointing results over the past year.

In the email, seen by the BBC, employees were told that consultanty PriceWaterhouseCoopers had been appointed to look for potential buyers.

The news came after the company confirmed in April it would cut 30 jobs at its sites in Norfolk and Suffolk, while reports a month later suggested financial difficulties were delaying payments to suppliers.

The company has declined to comment on the sale at this time.

‘Internal operation of the business’

In the email, Alan Jamieson, ceo of Rutland Partners – which holds a majority share in Bernard Matthews – said: “This does not affect the internal operation of the business.

“Neither does it reduce in any way Rutland’s support for the BM management team as it continues to strengthen and improve the business following the disappointing results achieved over the last year or so.”

Rutland Partners bought a £25M stake in Bernard Mathews three years ago, and added a further £10M cash injection to the business in 2015.

Steve Harley, regional officer for Unite the Union, told BBC News​: “I’m disappointed that the company has not seen fit to inform the union directly.”

Unite represents about 400 Bernard Matthews employees.

Fall of £30M

Turnover for the turkey firm was £276.8M for the year ending 2015, down from £306.8M the year ending 2014, a fall of £30M.

Bernard Matthews employs 1,850 people across Norfolk and Suffolk, producing branded and own-­label poultry products for the UK’s leading grocery retailers and foodservice operators.

The company worked hard to overcome setbacks in 2013 including soaring poultry feed prices and a bird flu outbreak at one of its farms in Suffolk.

It rears more than 7M turkeys a year at farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire and operates two main production units in East Anglia.

Meanwhile, Unite the union was seeking urgent assurances from management about the security of jobs​ at Barnard Matthews.

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