2 Sisters to close poultry site

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

2 Sisters Food Group has announced plans to close its Witham processing facility
2 Sisters Food Group has announced plans to close its Witham processing facility

Related tags Poultry Processing equipment & plant design

2 Sisters Food Group has announced plans to close one of its poultry processing plants in a bid to grow efficiencies in its supply chain.

Unveiled as part of a series of actions to accelerate its transformation strategy, it revealed plans to close the Witham poultry processing site in Essex. It has begun consultations with 555 members of staff with the hopes of redeploying them to other sites in the group.

2 Sisters CEO Ronald Kers said: “We’re all acutely aware that some of our plans, such as reducing our UK poultry footprint, brings uncertainty for colleagues, and it is with regret that we have to make such proposals. But the alternative of doing nothing and hoping for an upturn is not an option.”

Workers union Unite said the proposal was "grim news for the workforce and the Essex economy"​.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with the management to clarify the implications of what is proposed.

“Our first priority will be our members at this very worrying time for them and their families. We will be seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies and explore opportunities for redeployment to other 2 Sisters’ sites across the region during the consultation period.”

Other measures revealed by 2 Sisters include investment in the rest of its UK poultry division and Fox’s Biscuits. This is the second set of measures in as many years, with the business unveiling the Framework for Success’ last August​ which merged several divisions.

Our stated strategy is to become the number one poultry plus business in Europe and for several months now we have been engaged in a strategic review to facilitate our delivery on this, focussed on improving execution, reducing cost and building a better organisational culture,”​ said Kers.

“But there is now a pressing need to accelerate our turnaround so we can further increase the performance of our business. That’s why we’re keen to invest where we see potential growth: our UK Poultry business will benefit from this further investment and work which has already started to get Fox’s Biscuits in shape for the future ramps up to the next level with some major investment around automation, marketing and product innovation.”

In March, the business announced plans to cut up to 250 job​s​ at its Fox’s Biscuits’ Uttoxeter site as part of a “reconfiguring to ensure it has a longer-term, viable future”​.

Bakery growth

Meanwhile, 2 Sisters announced that it has secured more customer commitments for its Gunstones bakery site in Dronfield.

“The good news from Gunstones bakery is great for everyone following delivery of a fantastic product over the Easter period,”​ said Kers. “After a very challenging few years, there is now a strong foundation for future growth, although there is still some work to be done to make the site more efficient and to get more volume for the business.”

Matthew Walker sale

Its Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding business has also been the subject of speculation of late​, with rumours circulating that it is up for sale. Kers confirmed that the divestment process is at an “early stage”​.

“We have been clear for some time now that we will realise the value of our businesses to improve our balance sheet only if it is strategically right for us to do so,”​ said Kers. “It is quite natural to get this kind of speculation and, although we do not normally comment, we are in the early stages of a sale process for Matthew Walker and anticipate strong international interest. However, we will only sell at the right time and for the right value and our colleagues would be the first to know if this were to happen.”

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