Dutch-based meat processing company Vion NV has agreed a management buyout of its UK pork business nearly one month after it was announced operations in the country would be sold.
Managing director of Vion’s pork business unit Seamus Carr is leading the deal, which is backed by UK private equity firm Endless, and will see around 4,000 jobs saved across 10 UK and Ireland locations.
Carr, who will be managing director of the new company, said: “Vion’s decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty among staff, suppliers and customers. So I’m very pleased that we have been able to quickly agree a deal for the pork business, which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition.”
According to Carr, the priority now is to maintain the “excellent” levels of service and product quality that have helped the company secure orders from major UK supermarkets. He added that, going forward, the new company would build on the opportunities in the marketplace to further business.
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr welcomed of the management buyout and explained that, when the company first announced its intentions to sell, it highlighted the viability of the UK business. He said: “The swiftness with which we’ve been able to agree a deal with the management team of the pork business unit, which knows the company inside-out, underlines our confidence in the sales process.
“It is therefore very encouraging that the pork business unit should be the subject of a successful and swift sale and this augurs well for our ongoing discussions with prospective buyers for the remaining areas of the business.“
“This is the very best outcome and I am sure the response from everyone involved, from our farmers and suppliers, to our employees and customers, will be extremely positive.”
Barr also explained that Vion would now focus its attention on securing the sale of the remaining poultry and red meat operations in the UK, in which a further 8,000 people are employed. He said both the poultry and red meat businesses remained profitable and cash-generative and had received a lot of interest from prospective purchasers.
Vion moved into the UK in the late 1990s with the buyout of Key Country Foods, which was followed by the purchase Tranfield and then Grampian Country Food Group in 2008. Vion UK supplied beef, lamb, pork and chicken products to various blue-chip customers across the food retailing and manufacturing sectors.
The announcement, on 19 November, that it would sell its UK food operations put 13,000 jobs at risk over 38 sites across the UK meat sector. A decision to pull out of the UK was made, so Vion could focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany as well as its global ingredients business.