150 jobs spared chop at Hull pork plant Vion
ABOUT 150 jobs have been saved at a Hull pork processing plant.
Employees at Vion in Liverpool Street were yesterday told their jobs were safe after the company reached an agreement for a management buyout (MBO) of its UK pork operations.
The move secures 4,000 jobs across the Dutch-based food company's UK pork division.
This includes 500 jobs at the company's bacon processing plant in Scunthorpe.
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The news offers a glimmer of positivity in what has been a devastating period for job losses across the Hull and Humber region.
Since October 16, more than 1,250 jobs have been slashed or confirmed at risk at firms ranging from salad growers to food manufacturers.
Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber LEP, said: "This is a welcome decision, particularly as it comes after some recent bad news in the local economy.
"It is also a positive reflection on the workforce, the facility and what Hull has to offer the sector."
Seamus Carr, managing director of Vion's Pork Business Unit, led the MBO.
Mr Carr, who will be managing director of the new company, said: "Vion's decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty among staff, suppliers and customers.
"I'm very pleased we have quickly been able to agree a deal for the pork business, which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition."
On November 19, Vion announced it was selling its UK food operations.
The division employs 13,000 people across 38 UK sites.
Vion said it took the decision in order to "focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business".
Mr Carr said: "Our ambitions for the new business are firstly to maintain the excellent levels of service and product quality that have helped us secure orders from all the major supermarkets and then to build on the opportunities in the marketplace to grow the business."
The deal was backed by UK private equity firm Endless, which has a strong track record of investing in companies in the UK across a wide range of sectors.
In 2008, Endless bought the then struggling paint manufacturer Crown, which has been manufacturing in Hull for more than 200 years.
By the time Endless sold Crown to Hempel last year, it had achieved profits of £20m on sales of £180m, while also increasing its market share year-on-year and preserving more than 1,500 jobs.
Discussions are ongoing with a number of prospective buyers for Vion's other UK business units, which focus on poultry and red meat.
Peter Barr, chairman of Vion UK, said: "This is the very best outcome and I am sure the response from everyone involved, from our farmers and suppliers, to our employees and customers, will be extremely positive."