A government-led coalition challenging Vion’s decision to close its Hall’s of Broxburn meat plant in the UK has identified “significant savings” at the loss-making facility but job losses still look inevitable.

Opportunities for further operational savings at the Scotland-based facility were this week outlined by the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) at a meeting of a special taskforce, which includes trade unions and local authorities.

The taskforce is seeking alternatives to Vion’s decision to close the Broxburn plant, which the Netherlands-based firm says is losing GBP79,000 per day (US$125,000). 
Scotland’s finance minister, John Swinney, told the BBC this week that “it is difficult to conceive that all 1,700 jobs [at the plant] could be secured”.

Speaking to just-food today (24 August), Lawrence Wason, of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), said the extra savings identified are “significant, but they don’t amount to the total losses the company is experiencing”.

Still, he said the taskforce has a chance to make the savings work. “It’s been decided that SMAS, Scottish Enterprise and the management will work together over the next couple of weeks to see if they can put the changes in place,” he said.

Earlier this month, Hall’s of Broxburn was reported to have attracted interest from two potential buyers. This, however, has not been confirmed.

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When contacted by just-food, a Vion spokesperson said the firm will not comment until its official 90-day consultation on the plant closure is finished.

At the time of announcing its plan to shut the plant, Vion’s chairman, Peter Barr, said there was “no alternative”. He added: “There is significant over-capacity in the UK meat industry and market conditions are extremely challenging.”