MORE than 4,000 jobs have been saved after private equity firm Endless backed a management buy-out of Dutch group Vion’s UK pork operations.
The Leeds-based investment house – which specialises in companies “facing challenges or finding themselves in special situations” – supported managing director Seamus Carr in leading the deal, which secures more than 100 jobs in Scotland.
Vion announced its withdrawal from Britain last month but said yesterday that discussions were continuing with potential buyers of its poultry and red meat units.
Sources have suggested Endless is interested in backing buy-outs similar to the MBO of the pork unit, though others are also involved in those talks.
The pork division includes the pig farming and feed mill operation at Brydock in Aberdeenshire, where about 115 people are employed. There are also seven sites in England, one in Northern Ireland and the McGees butchers business in the Republic of Ireland.
The deal gives some immediate respite to Brydock, but concerns remain over the long-term prospects for pig production in the North-east.
Vion confirmed in October the closure of its pork processing plant at Broxburn and is winding down that business with the loss of about 1,700 jobs.
Amid tighter regulations on the transportation of animals, farmers fear the cost and difficulty of getting pigs to processing plants in England will prove unsustainable in the long-term.
Philip Sleigh, chairman of NFU Scotland’s pigs committee, said the quick sale was encouraging and the union waited “with interest” to hear of the new buyers’ plans for its herd of sows in Aberdeenshire.
“There will be some disappointment that the pork division sale comes after the closure of Scotland’s largest processing site at Broxburn,” he said.