1,700 jobs butchered as owner rejects bids for Hall’s of Broxburn

Posted on 17 Oct 2012

Meat processors Hall’s of Broxburn is set to close after rejecting two offers to buy the plant.

As one of two bidders to buy the plant, which employs 1,700 people, Steve Green of Graf Capital, told the BBC that his seven-figure proposal could have saved 1,200 jobs if its bid to buy the plant had been accepted.

Mr Green commented that he had not been given a proper chance to save the factory and that the closure could have been avoided.

Mr Green told the BBC that Vion “never had any intention of selling the business from the outset.”

“There were no lawyers involved, there were no accountants involved,” he said. “They would not allow us to have access to the site.”

“It’s been a charade at the expense of Scottish jobs.”

However Vion have released a statement saying that neither offer constituted a viable or sustainable alternative to the proposed closure of the plant.

“In neither instance were we assured that either offer provided a guarantee of ongoing employment for the workforce, despite Vion being prepared to offer substantial financial assistance to support the acquisition,” said UK chairman Peter Barr.

With the plant, which processes more than 70% of Scottish pig meat, continuing to suffer “unsustainable losses of £79,000 a day” Vion will now proceed with a phased closure of the plant.

A number of areas at the meat producer will cease production later this month, the factory expected to be shut by February 2013

Mr Barr has blamed the losses on the outdated and inefficient layout of the site, overcapacity in the marketplace and increasing costs of energy and meat. While Vion had identified some efficiency improvements, they were not nearly enough to bridge the very considerable losses that the Hall’s of Broxburn factory continues to incur.

The Scottish Government had offered to buy and lease the site back to the company but the level of funding was not enough to solve problems at the site.

Vion food group purchased the Hall’s of Broxburn site in August 2008 when it acquired the troubled Grampian Country Food Group.

The Dutch manufacturer sold a meat processing plant in Cheshire to supermarket Morrisons in February and left Paramount Foods, which employed over 500 people at the start of 2012, in administration with a buyer still being sought.

Usdaw, the union representing the majority of the workforce at the site, said it was bitterly disappointed no credible buyers have emerged for the business.

Usdaw divisional officer Lawrence Wason said that the loss of jobs would have a “devastating impact  on the local economy and Scotland itself.”