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November 14, 2022

Moy Park U-turns on UK chicken plant closure

The poultry company’s Ashbourne site will be downsized and only supply commercial contracts.

By Jessica Broadbent

Chicken supplier Moy Park has reversed its decision to close one of its UK plants, saving 175 jobs.

The site in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, will be downsized and become a factory focusing on business-to-business contracts, the company said.

However, a potential 760 jobs may still be lost as part of the “reshape”.

It follows months of campaigning against the closure, which initially looked set to see up to 935 redundancies. The GMB union said the proposed job losses would have been “catastrophic” for the area.

Moy Park, which supplies Nando’s and McDonald’s, announced the planned closure in September, citing the difficult cost-of-living trading environment.

A Moy Park spokesperson said: “We are able to reshape our Ashbourne facility to be a business-to-business supplier, saving the site from closure. While the site will be downsized, 175 jobs will be saved as a result of this repositioning.

“This move will ensure we have a strong security of supply for future opportunities and provides contingency options.

“We are supporting the employees at the site and in our supply chain who have been impacted by the restructuring of the factory.”

Moy Park supplies branded and private-label chicken and prepared meals to retail and foodservice customers in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

It previously announced plans to shift production to its chicken plants in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, and Anwick in Lincolnshire. It has four fresh chicken processing plants in the UK, with the other located in Dungannon in Northern Ireland.

As many as 860 permanent workers at the processing site in Ashbourne were expected to lose their jobs – increasing to 935 staff when including hatchery workers, temporary positions and drivers.

Moy Park, which has been owned by US poultry peer Pilgrim’s Pride since 2017, did not comment on what would happen to jobs outside of the 175 saved in the restructure when approached by Just Food.

GMB organiser Mick Coppin said: “GMB has been negotiating and campaigning to save jobs at Moy Park for months. To see management sit up and listen to our members’ demands is fantastic.

“These workers are absolutely essential in producing and supplying our favourite chicken products across the country, in the home and in well-loved restaurant chains including Nando’s and McDonald’s.

“Potential job losses on the scale feared would have been catastrophic for the local community.”

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