Former Vion pork unit in supermarket discussions

Seamus Carr says deal could see his firm take on 80 staff. Picture: Joey Kelly
Seamus Carr says deal could see his firm take on 80 staff. Picture: Joey Kelly
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KARRO Food Group, the former Vion UK pork business, is in talks with supermarket giant Tesco to extend its butchers’ counter joint venture.

Dutch meat giant Vion closed its Hall’s of Broxburn site in February with the loss of 1,700 jobs. Endless, a Leeds-based private equity firm, backed a management buyout of Vion UK’s remaining pork business in December, with the unit renamed as Karro.

Karro has run the butchers’ counter at Tesco’s Corstorphine site in Edinburgh since February.

The company, which is based in North Yorkshire, is in discussions with the grocery chain to expand its operations across ten Tesco stores north of the Border.

Seamus Carr, chief executive at Karro, told The Scotsman that up to 80 staff could join his company if the deal goes ahead.

“I would expect to hear if we’ve been successful at the back end of this year or early next year,” Carr said.

Karro, which employs around 3,000 people at nine UK sites, has a similar deal in Northern Ireland, where it runs butchers’ counters in 16 Asda stores.

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke is shifting the group’s emphasis back to food, buying restaurant operator Giraffe and investing in bakery chain Euphorium and the Harris & Hoole coffee shops.

As well as its work with Tesco, Karro rears pigs in Aberdeenshire and Moray, and has a feed mill at Brydock near Banff.

The firm has 90 staff in Scotland and is expanding its pig herd from 8,500 to about 10,500 at its existing farms. Longer term, Carr said he would add further farms if demand for pork continues to rise.