Bernard Matthews on the block

Bernard Matthews on the block

The owners of Europe's largest turkey manufacturer, Bernard Matthews, are considering selling the business. 

A spokesperson for advisory group PricewaterhouseCoopers told just-food it has been appointed by Bernard Matthews' majority owner, private-equity group Rutland Partners, to assess options for the business. 

Rumours  Bernard Matthews was facing financial problems – and would potentially struggle to meet its financial obligations – emerged last month. However, at the time a spokesperson for the group played down concerns. Bernard Matthews insisted the company is a "sound, well-run company" adding it is "business as usual" at the turkey processor. 

In an email to employees this week, published by the BBC, Rutland Partners' executive chairman Alan Jamieson insisted the private-equity group's decision to divest its interest in Bernard Matthews would not affect the "internal operation of the business".

He continued: "Neither does it reduce in any way Rutland's support for the BM management team as it continues to strengthen and improve the business following the disappointing results achieved over the last year or so."

Turnaround specialists Rutland Partners took a stake in the business three years ago. Since then, the company appointed former Hain Celestial executives Rob Burnett as CEO and Andy Deutsch as COO.

During this time, the company has also realigned its production base, closing its Grainthorpe factory in Lincolnshire in 2014 and boosting production at its facility in Norfolk in response to increased demand in 2015.

Bernard Matthews is the largest turkey brand in the UK. However, the company continues to grapple with overall softness in the sector and the highly seasonal nature of UK turkey consumption. 

Representatives for Bernard Matthews and Rutland were not immediately available for comment. 

Talk that Bernard Matthews could be picked up by a strategic player has done the rounds for successive years now. Here is our 2013 analysis of which companies could be interested. At the time, 2 Sisters Food Group emerged as the most obvious candidate. With 2 Sisters performance recovering - and the group rejecting deal talk linking it to a potential Dunbia acquisition - could the time be right for the Boparan-owned group to pounce for Bernard Matthews?