300 Portlethen employees breathe sigh of relief as factory saved

MCINTOSH DONALD in Portlethen employs around 300 locals.

MCINTOSH DONALD in Portlethen employs around 300 locals.

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SOME 300 employees of the McIntosh Donald meat factory in Portlethen breathed a sigh of relief this week when Vion NV announced that it has found a buyer for the business.

The news on Monday follows the strategic decision VION announced in November that it was selling its UK food operations to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business, and the subsequent management buy out of its UK Pork activities in January of this year.

Boparan Holdings Limited, the holding company for 2 Sisters Food Group, has agreed to acquire Vion’s poultry and red meat processing businesses in the UK.

Group chief executive Ranjit Singh told the Leader: “We are delighted to be acquiring VION’s UK poultry and red meat businesses.

‘‘They have faced significant uncertainty and tough trading in recent months, but this acquisition secures a viable future.”

North Kincardine Councillor Alison Evison added: “This announcement will hopefully bring an end to a worrying time for almost 300 local workers.

‘‘The new owners should be able to create opportunities for McIntosh Donald and work towards a more sustainable future in Portlethen.”

Local Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Mollison said: “The sale as a going concern is welcome.

‘‘It brings to an end the immediate uncertainty hanging over the workforce and the farmers who supply the abattoir and the staff will be eager to hear first hand the new owner’s plans for its new Scottish sites.”

Following discussions on Monday, Vion UK has offered to facilitate a meeting later this month to allow NFUS to meet with key 2 Sisters personnel to hear first hand its plans for the Scottish sites.

OPPORTUNITIES

NFU Scotland vice--President Rob Livesey said: “Since the announcement regarding Vion’s UK plants in November 2012, there has been a degree of uncertainty over the future of the sites in Scotland.

‘‘This agreement draws a line under that and we will meet with 2 Sisters management in due course to get a feel for its plans for Scotland.

“Recent headline-grabbing issues within the processed food sector have shown that there are genuine opportunities for Scotland to deliver the traceability, provenance and quality that consumers want.

‘‘Backed by greater retailer commitment to home-produced products, these Scottish sites are ideally placed to meet that demand with meat produced on Scottish farms.

“On red meat, the McIntosh Donald plant at Portlethen is one of the big five Scottish abattoirs and already heavily committed to the Scotch brand.

‘‘It is embedded in Scottish agriculture’s feeding heartland and hundreds of Scottish farmers send significant numbers of top quality cattle to this plant.

‘‘Its sale as a going concern will bring uncertainty to an end and allow farmers to continue supplying the plant with some confidence.”

Responding to the news, Sir Robert Smith, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, added: “I welcome the end to the uncertainty that this commitment brings and I look forward to working with the new owners.

‘‘It is more important than ever that well produced Scottish meat has a local route to the market place.”

SNP MSP Maureen Watt expressed her ‘‘delight’’ at the news as the plant is within her Aberdeen South and North Kincardine constituency.

She said: “I am delighted that the future of McIntosh Donald in Portlethen has been secured.

“Safeguarding the future of the plant was essential for both the 280 employees and the local community.’’