Sale of factory puts jobs at risk

Malton Bacon Factory (Vion Foods) gv for sale.Picture Richard Ponter 124706
Malton Bacon Factory (Vion Foods) gv for sale.Picture Richard Ponter 124706

Hundreds of jobs are on the line after the owner of Ryedale’s main employer announced it has put the business up for sale and will pull out of the UK.

Vion Food Group, the Dutch-based owner of Malton Bacon Factory, said it will be returning to its “coremarkets” in the Netherlands and Germany and intends to sell its pork, red meat and poultry UK businesses.

A spokesman said yesterday that Vion is confident it will sell its UK sites as viable businesses and that there has already been a “good level of interest in individual sites”.

The announcement by Vion, which employs 13,000 people at 38 UK sites, has led to fears for the future of Vion’s site at Norton Grove Industrial Estate.

The site employs 1,572 people many of which travel from Scarborough.

The Mayor of Norton, Di Keal, said: “It’s a blow to the community and the people who are employed there and especially in the financial climate when jobs are hard to come by. Hopefully, if it can be sold as a business it may not affect jobs. If that were to happen it would be a huge loss.”

Dirk Kloosterboer, Vion’s chief executive and executive board chairman, said: “This is a particularly difficult day for everyone at Vion.

“The decisions we have made have not been easy but are essential. We are returning Vion Food to its core pork and beef activities in the Netherlands and Germany, whilst Vion Ingredients will continue to develop globally.”

He added: “These are steps in a challenging programme to get our food activities back to the desired returns, but I am fully confident that, with the hard work and support of all our people, we will once again ensure VION’s strong position in our chosen markets.”

Cllr Keith Knaggs, leader of Ryedale District Council, said yesterday morning that the council was due to discuss plans to focus the £439,779 from the New Homes Bonus money on creating or preserving jobs.

“The risk to the Malton Bacon Factory shows how well-timed that move is,” he said.

Vion said it had made the decision after carrying out a detailed analysis of its markets and the outlook. Disappointing results in 2011 and 2012 also played a part.

Company bosses are now inviting bidders for their UK sites and although it is still “early days” in the process, the Scarborough News understands there may be more details about the sale of Vion Malton at Norton Grove Industrial Estate in the coming days.

Vion has had a major presence in the UK since it bought Grampian Country Food Group in 2008. Its activities in the UK are split into a number of sub-markets, the principal ones being pork, beef, lamb and poultry.