VION buyout safeguards 3,000 Welsh meat processing jobs

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Media captionThe deal does not include Welsh Country Foods on Anglesey which is up for sale.

Nearly 3,000 jobs have been safeguarded at three poultry and meat processing plants in Wales after a buyout by a meat suppliers.

The Birmingham-based 2 Sisters Food Group said the purchase of VION would help the company meet growing demand.

About 300 jobs in Llangefni, 1,300 in Sandycroft, Flintshire, and 1,300 in Merthyr have been safeguarded by the deal.

But it does not include Welsh Country Foods on Anglesey which is up for sale.

The Dutch food group VION announced in November that it was selling its operations in Britain.

The 2 Sisters Food Group, which is owned by Boparan Holdings Limited (BHL), said the move would secure the future of 11 sites across the UK and the jobs of 6,000 employees, while helping the firm meet growing demand and the allow expansion into the red meat industry.

Viable future

Ranjit Singh, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, said: "We are delighted to be acquiring VION UK's poultry and red meat businesses.

"They have faced significant uncertainty and tough trading in recent months, but today's acquisition secures a viable future.

"With the majority of the operations being in Scotland and Wales, we are delighted that the Scottish and Welsh governments are supportive of this deal and we look forward to working with them and developing a sustainable future for these businesses."

Anglesey council leader Brian Owen said he was hoping for a meeting as soon as possible with the company to see how they see their future in Llangefni.

"This is good news from Llangefni's point of view but disappointing for Gaerwen because the plant there is not included in this purchase.

'Excellent news'

"We are still in talks with the company, the government and workers to see if there is hope in Gaerwen," he added.

Huw Lewis, the Labour AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, said VION's announcement that it planned to sell its UK operations had "caused a great deal of worry to workers and their families at St Merryn Foods.

"I wholeheartedly welcome today's announcement by 2 Sisters Food Group and the safeguarding of jobs here in Merthyr Tydfil," he added.

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "We have been working closely with both Vion and 2 Sisters to help secure this deal in order to sustain the future for the workers and the supply chain in Wales."

Red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) has also welcomed the news.

"This is excellent news for Merthyr, not only for the town and the employees who are directly employed at St Merryn, but also for the hundreds of farmers who supply the plant," said HCC chairman Dai Davies.

"Despite being left out of today's deal, HCC remains hopeful that there is a future for Welsh Country Foods (at Gaerwen).

"As the last remaining large abattoir in north Wales it has an important strategic role to play in the red meat industry of the region," he added.

In January, Welsh Country Foods, which employs 350 people, said it was beginning a 90-day consultation exercise with unions and workers after "key customer" Asda pulled out.

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