ONE OF the companies which had its bid for the Hall’s plant at Broxburn rejected hit out at its owners last night, saying they had no intention of keeping the factory open.
Dutch owners Vion yesterday confirmed they would go ahead with closure plans after rejecting two offers to buy the facility, claiming neither bid had been viable or sustainable.
Under the decision, some parts of the meat plant will shut later this month, with complete closure scheduled for February next year.
Private equity firm Graf Mortgage Corporation, which has an office in Edinburgh, tabled a seven-figure bid by last Friday’s deadline to buy the factory.
Managing director Steve Green said he was “outraged” at the handling of the process, with his firm having guaranteed saving 1,200 permanent jobs.
The Hall’s factory dates back to 1932 and employs 1,700 staff.
Mr Green said: “They never had any intention whatsoever of selling this business. It was apparent right from the outset.
“There were no lawyers involved, there were no accountants involved.
“They would not give us due diligence, they would not allow us to have access to the site. It’s been a charade at the expense of Scottish jobs.”
Mr Green said the factory closure could spell the death of the Scottish pig farming industry.
He said: “They told us that it’s their intention to no longer source or breed Scottish pigs. They’ll do that in England. This is a strategic decision.”
Lothians MSP Neil Findlay echoed Mr Green’s position, saying the decision had been predetermined. He said: “There has been no end to the effort made to find a viable future for the plant and staff.
“It is clear, however, that Vion wanted out from day one.”
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said: “In neither instance were we assured that either offer provided a guarantee of ongoing employment for the workforce, in spite of the fact that Vion was prepared to offer substantial financial assistance to support the acquisition.
“This is a very sad day for the company, but unfortunately the plant continues to suffer unsustainable losses of £79,000 a day.”
Finance secretary John Swinney outlined the Scottish Government’s proposed recovery plan.
Skill matching services for axed staff along with a commitment to investigate lifelines for the Scottish pig industry were part of the support package.
Mr Swinney said: “I have today confirmed to West Lothian Council that the Scottish Government will partner in the economic regeneration of Broxburn and officials are developing plans which we will bring to the taskforce at the end of October. These plans will help to mitigate the impact of this closure on West Lothian as a whole.”
Stephen Boyd, assistant secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said: “At this stage we’ve very disappointed, but hardly surprised.”