UK’s Bernard Matthews to shut cooked meats facility

Operations at the plant in Great Witchingham in Norfolk will draw to a close at the end of the month.

Fiona Holland March 04 2024

Poultry and turkey meats producer Bernard Matthews has confirmed plans to close a cooked meats factory in the UK.

The facility is based in Great Witchingham in Norfolk in eastern England.

Operations at the plant are expected to cease by the end of this month.

Cooked meat production will be moved to the company's other five sites in the country, located in Holton in Suffolk, Derby and Sunderland.

According to a spokesperson, "the large majority" of the 600 employees at the Great Witchingham plant will be relocated to these other facilities.

They added: "We understand this will be very disappointing news for all concerned and a very difficult time for colleagues, who we commend for acting in such a professional and courteous manner during this unsettling period.

"We promised that our key priority was to create as many opportunities and offer as much support as possible for all of those affected by this closure."

Colleagues who have not been relocated "will be fully supported and all options explored before any final decisions are made", the spokesperson said, adding that the group was "committed to doing all we can and will be offering additional support until operations wind down in the coming weeks.

Bernard Matthews first signaled its intentions to shutter the space in January of this year.

At the time, the company said the closure was being considered as “huge challenges" faced the turkey and poultry industry, and the site was "not a sustainable operation".

Workers at the plant are represented by the Unite workers union. At the time, regional officer Mark Jaina said the move was "devastating news for its workers and the local area".

Just Food has contacted Unite for additional comment.

The group was first established at the Great Witchingham site in the 1950s.

In 2016, it was snapped up by a private investment group belonging to the CEO of UK poultry business 2 Sisters Food Group.

According to accounts filed with Companies House for the year ended 1 January 2023, Bernard Matthews posted revenue of £284.8m ($361.1m), compared to £270.8m in the corresponding 12-month period.

Operating profit losses narrowed to £9.6m from a £25m loss. Net profit was also in the red at £7.9m versus a £20.9m loss.

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