Browns Food to take over Hall’s brand

The meat plant at Broxburn was closed down. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The meat plant at Broxburn was closed down. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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TWO of Scotland’s oldest food brands will be brought together today when Dumfriesshire-based Browns Food Group buys the Hall’s of Broxburn brand and its delivery van business.

Some 50 jobs will be secured as Browns takes over the delivery operations but the deal will not save the roles of 1,700 workers at Hall’s main plant in West Lothian, which is due to close within a matter of weeks.

A further 8,000 jobs, including about 2,200 in Scotland, are also under threat as Hall’s Dutch parent company, Vion, tries to sell the rest of its UK operations.

Alan Hill, finance director at Browns, told The Scotsman: “We purchased the Hall’s name because it’s a brand name that sells.

“We are going to work with our current providers and retail outlets and hope to add to them in time. We’ll certainly preserve jobs and hope to increase jobs in time. We’re keeping the van sales jobs open.”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, the convenor of Holyrood’s economy committee, said that, while it was “good news” the Hall’s brand had been saved, the overall picture was “bleak” because of the job losses.

Finance secretary John Swinney added: “It is welcome news that the Hall’s brand will continue. We have always known that there was significant value in the brand and I am glad that it will continue with another great Scottish company.”

Browns, which was founded in 1885, will make Hall’s products – such as haggis, lorne sausage and Wee Willie Winkies sausages – at its five Scottish sites. Hall’s traces its roots to 1932.

Browns also has two plants in England and trades under a variety of brands, including Belchers of Ayrshire, Fenton Barns in East Lothian and Tarbert Fine Foods.

The Brown family sold their meat manufacturing business to butcher Martyn Godfrey in 1985 and the group has since grown to employ about 750 workers.

Accounts filed at Companies House in July showed Browns’ profits dipped to £3.2 million in 2011 from £4.5m in 2010 after sales eased to £104m from £108m amid “challenging and competitive” market conditions.

Last year Browns said customers including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco had reacted positively to a rebranding of its Tarbert meat range to emphasise its Scottish credentials.