Three leading Scottish meat firms yesterday announced plans to build a state-of-the-art abattoir for cattle and sheep at Thainstone in Aberdeenshire.
Bridge of Allan-based Scotbeef will be the majority shareholder in a new company, Scotbeef Inverurie, which will be a partnership with Scotch Premier Meat (SPM) and Mathers, who currently operate adjoining abattoirs in nearby Inverurie.
The move means that farmers’ co-operative ANM Group – which earlier this year put its loss-making Scotch Premier business up for sale – will retain an interest in meat processing to provide a deadweight outlet for its 7,000 members.
The new company will take over the two existing SPM and Mathers plants within the next four to five weeks and will consolidate the business into one plant in the short-term. It is hoped the new plant will be up and running within two years on a site owned by ANM Group close to the company’s Thainstone auction mart.
“Based on the business model of our successful processing facility at Bridge of Allan, the new Thainstone plant will provide primary processing services for farmers, retailers, export, independent butchers and other customers,” said Iain Galloway, chairman of JW Galloway, owners of Scotbeef.
The new company will be led by his son, Robbie, managing director of the Galloway business. He will be supported by ANM Group chief executive Pat Machray, and Mathers managing director Michael Mountford as site director.
The aim is to retain as many jobs as possible, although job losses will be inevitable as the two businesses are integrated. SPM has around 130 employees and Mathers around 100.
Robbie Galloway said the meat industry was “extremely challenging” at the present time with the twin pressures of a shortage of raw materials and continuous price pressure from customers.
He said: “To ensure a sustainable business, efficient facilities are a prerequisite. The interim consolidation of the two businesses into one existing facility, followed by relocation to a new state-of-the-art facility, will provide a platform for future growth.”
The combined turnover of the three companies is currently £310 million with Scotbeef by far the biggest at £220m, including £55m of exports.
Machray said: “This agreement should secure the long-term future of meat processing in the North-east while maintaining a highly competitive market, benefiting farmers, customers and the local economy.”
l SCOTTISH prime lamb prices have fallen sharply over the past two weeks, reflecting the increased numbers of lambs now reaching the market, according to Stuart Ashworth of Quality Meat Scotland. He said he believed the market would be under pressure for “a little while yet”, largely due to Ireland, England and Wales recording a bigger lamb crop this year.
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