VION bacon factory buy-out welcomed by Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin
A MANAGEMENT buy-out of a Scunthorpe bacon-processing plant that will save around 500 jobs has been welcomed in the town.
Dutch-based food producer VION NV has reached the agreement over its UK pork operations.
The Scunthorpe bacon-processing plant, based on Billet Lane, employs around 500 staff.
Bosses at Vion NV had previously told the workforce they were confident they would sell their whole UK meat processing units as an ongoing, viable businesses.
VION NV said the deal will secure around 4,000 jobs across the UK.
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said the news was very positive for the town.
He said: "This is very good news for everybody associated and working for Vion locally and it is good to get this news before Christmas. Hopefully, 2013 will have a very good start for Vion in Scunthorpe."
Richard Hutchings, North Lincolnshire and West Lindsey branch chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the buy-out was good news.
He said: "If this helps to secure the jobs of local people, this is a real Christmas present for Scunthorpe. There's also the many jobs which will be saved among the companies which supply Vion."
The sale of the UK operation, which employs 13,000 people, comes four years after Vion bought out the former Scunthorpe-based businesses run by Key Country Foods.
That came as part of a reported £380 million deal.
In November 2010, the Dutch owners axed 180 permanent and temporary jobs in Scunthorpe, following the loss of a major contract from supermarket giants Asda.
The deal, led by Seamus Carr, managing director of VION's Pork Business Unit, is backed by UK private equity firm Endless. It has a strong track record of investing in companies in the UK across a wide range of sectors.
Mr 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. Therefore, I'm very pleased that we have quickly been able to agree a deal for the pork business which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition.
"Our ambitions for the new business are firstly to maintain the excellent levels of service and product quality which have helped us secure orders from all the major supermarkets and then to build upon the opportunities in the marketplace to grow the business."
Usdaw's national officer John Gorle made it clear the union welcomed the news that a management buy-out for the pork business unit had been agreed.
But Mr Gorle added: "While we welcome the news, we will be seeking an urgent meeting with the new owners in order that we can fully understand the short to medium term business strategy and receive assurances on jobs and the future of the business."
Vion announced last month it wanted to sell its entire UK food operation, which is headquartered in Livingston and has 38 sites. The move was part of a strategy to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany.
Discussions are ongoing with a number of prospective purchasers for VION's other UK business units for poultry and red meat.