The sale, announced late on Friday (5 October), ended days of speculation about the future of the Attleborough-based poultry business, with Bernard Matthews also having declared an interest in its acquisition.
The troubled business had faced a “perfect storm” of supermarket margin pressure, feed price increases, and capital expenditure that had impacted on short-term profitability, according to administrator Duff & Phelps.
Owned by the Foulger family for more than 50 years, Banham has a turnover of £150m and processes around 1.2 million birds a week – roughly 7% of the UK poultry market.
It produces its own chicks, hatches them and rears them all the way through to slaughter. Its fresh and frozen ranges are sold in independent outlets and small supermarkets around the UK, and to export markets.
Joint administrators appointed
On Friday, Allan Graham and Trevor Birch of Duff & Phelps were appointed joint administrators to Banham Poultry Ltd and Banham Group Ltd. Banham Poultry handled processing, while Banham Group was responsible for the rearing of poultry.
Banham Poultry chairman and managing director Michael Foulger said: “The Foulger Family are very pleased to have secured a deal with Chesterfield Poultry to ensure the long-term future of Banham and secure the continued employment of a very loyal workforce, which was always at the forefront of any negotiations.”
Chesterfield Poultry chief executive Nadeem Iqbal added: “We are delighted to welcome Banham into the Chesterfield family and look forward to continuing the legacy of the brand and quality poultry production in Attleborough.”
Graham at Duff & Phelps explained that the business had faced a perfect storm in recent months, with increasing margin pressures from supermarket chains as a result of price competition, combined with increases in feed prices.
‘Impacted short-term profitability’
“It had been undertaking a number of capital projects designed to improve productivity in the longer term, but these have impacted short-term profitability, which in turn has hit margin,” he said.
“The sale of the business – covering all assets, employees on permanent contracts, a hatchery and farms and processing plants at Banham – is a success.
“The swift conclusion of this sale has enabled Duff & Phelps to secure the future of over 1,100 employees, ensuring no break in processing and animal husbandry, guaranteeing the continued supply of high quality poultry to the UK food industry.”
The sale marked the end of a difficult week for Banham Poultry, after two contract workers were found dead close to its factory on Thursday (4 October). Police confirmed the deaths were linked to an industrial incident at the premises that had halted train services in the local area.