New owners ‘on site’ at Banham Poultry as rescue deal edges closer
PUBLISHED: 16:28 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05 09 October 2018
The future of Banham Poultry in Norfolk is on the verge of being secured as a deal with new owners edges towards completion.
Directors said they were close to finalising an agreement which would keep the business in Attleborough and save the jobs of more than 1,000 workers.
A team from the potential new owner, whose identity has not been revealed, was in Attleborough on Friday afternoon beginning the transition, according to Banham Poultry managing director Martyn Bromley.
He said: “One of the interested parties is now on site and helping us to hand over to them. There are eight of them, all senior people, who are managing their end of it to get a smooth partnership.”
Mr Bromley said the company was “still in a state of grief and sympathy” for the two contractors who were found dead at the factory in the early hours of Thursday morning, after what police believe was a refrigeration gas leak.
Meanwhile, Bernard Matthews – now owned by 2 Sisters Food Group entrepreneur Ranjit Singh Boparan – on Friday revealed its rival bid, which would have seen the closure of the Attleborough plant, with just 160 jobs preserved and the remaining 850 redeployed at its other East Anglian sites.
It followed days of crunch talks since Banham Poultry went public with its financial difficulties, which had prompted it to search for a buyer. The 59-year-old family firm endured a turbulent summer as feed prices rose, sales fell and major new machinery was bedded in.
MPs George Freeman and Elizabeth Truss had lobbied government on the firm’s behalf, while Breckland Council, Norfolk County Council and the New Anglia LEP pledged their support.
Mr Freeman said “intense talks” had taken place throughout Thursday and overnight into Friday to find “the right financial partner” for the company.
Detail of the offer from Bernard Matthews, believed to be the higher of the two offers on the table, came to light on Friday.
A spokesman said: “They [Bernard Matthews] would work very closely with the company to make sure people would be offered redeployment opportunities. The group of companies has the bandwith to accommodate all the workers from Banham Poultry.”
Bernard Matthews was bought out of administration by Mr Boparan, the UK’s so-called “chicken king”, in 2016.