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East Anglian meat processor’s £54m factory in Eye gets green light

PUBLISHED: 11:28 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:05 22 May 2018

On the production line at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher

On the production line at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher

© Archant Norfolk 2012

A national meat processor is on course to build western Europe’s “most advanced” poultry plant on the Norfolk/Suffolk border after securing planning permission.

Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick Country Foods. Picture: SubmittedAdam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick Country Foods. Picture: Submitted

The proposal by Cranswick to build a new £54m facility in Eye has been approved, with the company hoping to “get spades in the ground” by the end of June.

The company, which has facilities in Watton, Weybread and Kenninghall, hopes the investment will create up to 400 jobs to supplement the 2,000 it already has in the region.

It comes as Cranswick revealed strong full-year results for the 12 months to March 31 2018, with revenue increasing to £1.46bn – a like-for-like rise of 12.7% – and adjusted profit before tax up 22% to £92.4m.

Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick, said the Eye plant would be the biggest investment the company had ever made in a single site.

The entrance to Crown Chicken's Green Farm at Edge Green, Kenninghall. Crown was bought by Cranswick in 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe entrance to Crown Chicken's Green Farm at Edge Green, Kenninghall. Crown was bought by Cranswick in 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

More than half of the planned expenditure will go on modern machinery for the factory, he said, with a further £20m to be spent on “agricultural support” including upgrades to milling and hatchery facilities at Kenninghall.

“We are leading towards a record year for capital expenditure this year. We continue to invest in maintaining the facilities to make sure we are at the cutting edge,” he said.

“These results are a reflection of the investment we have put into infrastructure over the last 10 years.”

Cranswick spent £59m on capital expenditure in the year, most of which went towards the completion of a continental foods factory in Bury, Lancashire.

Mr Couch said the investment would substantially increase capacity at the factory, and that he hoped the new Eye facility would achieve the same for production in East Anglia.

“Our facility at Weybread is at capacity so this will more than double the capacity for poultry production,” he said.

Aside from its domestic endeavours, Cranswick also booked a 30.2% rise in export sales. Mr Couch said the Australasian market had been driving demand “for outdoor product in particular, which Norfolk is well renowned for”.

He added that a “strong commencement” to the barbecue season had set the company up for another strong year – but with sales on the rise it is considering its environmental footprint, with a pledge to halve the amount of packaging it uses by 2025.


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