Unite keeping an ‘eagle eye’ on Bernard Matthews

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unite said it will keep an ‘eagle eye’ on Bernard Matthews after talks with the manufacturer last week
Unite said it will keep an ‘eagle eye’ on Bernard Matthews after talks with the manufacturer last week

Related tags: Bernard matthews, Trade union

Trade union Unite is keeping an “eagle eye” on turkey producer Bernard Matthews, following a meeting with the manufacturer last week (July 15).

Bernard Matthews told the union – which has over 400 members working across the manufacturer’s sites – that the business was not up for sale.

But a number of interested parties had made approaches as to the company’s current value, it said.

“The management said that the company was not up for sale, although there had been approaches about Bernard Matthews’ current financial standing,”​ said Unite regional officer Steve Harley.

“The message was very much: ‘Business as usual’. There had been losses, but they were being addressed by a redevelopment plan as the company gears up for the peak Christmas production period.

‘No mention of any job losses’

“There was no mention of any job losses. But Unite will be keeping an eagle eye on the situation as it develops in the weeks and months ahead, as the job security of our members is paramount.”

Bernard Matthews’ views contradicted recent media reports claiming its owner, Rutland Partners had appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers to look for possible buyers.

It was reported that 2 Sisters Food Group was one of the front-runners looking into acquiring the company.

Both Bernard Matthews and its parent company, private equity firm Rutland Partners, declined to comment.

Unite’s 450 members

Unite’s 450 members at Bernard Matthews work across producing sites at Great Witchingham and Holton in Suffolk, as well as the animal feed mill at Bawsey, near King’s Lynn.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union. It has over 1.4M members, with many working in the food and drink sector.

Meanwhile, Bernard Matthews sold its German subsidiary​, Bernard Matthews Oldenburg (BMO), to German meat firm Sprehe Gruppe for £11.9M this month.

“It made strategic sense both for the UK group and for BMO to find a new owner that could exploit fully the BMO brand and operations,” ​said Bernard Matthews. “The proceeds from the sale will reduce group debt by​ [£11.9M] €14M.”

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