Bank at centre of Banham Poultry sale speaks out
PUBLISHED: 07:05 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:29 05 October 2018
The bank at the centre of the wrangle over Banham Poultry’s future insists it is working to protect the jobs of more than 1,000 workers.
Lloyds Bank, which financed a major investment at the company’s Attleborough site, will have a major say over which of two potential offers is accepted for the firm, which went public with its intent to sell up on Tuesday.
Questions had been raised over the bank’s role in the financial difficulties after Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman claimed Lloyds was pushing for the company to go into administration if a buyer could not be found.
But a spokesman for Lloyds said it wanted to secure the jobs, adding: “We are working closely with the directors at Banham Poultry at this difficult time. Negotiations relating to a possible salE of the business are continuing. All parties share the objective of securing local jobs and ensuring animal welfare.”
Discussions took place between local and central government partners on Thursday morning, aimed at securing a viable future for the poultry firm, which has been established in Norfolk since 1959.
Chief executive Martyn Bromley said two offers were on the table - but one would see the plant shut down and production moved elsewhere. The other, understood to be a lower offer, would protect the jobs and production in Attleborough.
A joint statement from Breckland Council, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk County Council and Mr Freeman said they were “doing everything possible” to support the company and protect jobs.
Mr Freeman said: “Banham Poultry is a major employer in mid Norfolk’s number one industry and while its commercial decisions are for the company to make, I am determined to continue working with partners in local government and all of the relevant agencies to best support the company and protect local jobs.”
Breckland council leader William Nunn said: ‘Banham Poultry has for many years played a key part in the Breckland community, providing a range of local employment opportunities. As a result, we will be doing our utmost, alongside our partners, to support the business to remain within the district.”
Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Norfolk County Council wants to see the best outcome for all involved and is ready to progress anything we might be able to do to achieve that.”
Chris Starkie, chief executive at New Anglia LEP, said: “Banham Poultry is one of our largest poultry businesses in the area. Our priority is finding a solution for the company ensuring the best way forward for the employees and its financial fitness so it can continue to grow.”
Lloyds Bank helped to finance an eight-figure investment in new machinery at Banham Poultry earlier this year, as the company looked to increased production.
It said in February that it was processing one million chickens a week and expected to reach 1.4 million by the autumn.