Hoxne-based Easey Pigs acquired by Tulip, subsidiary of Danish Crown, Europe’s largest pork processor
- Credit: Tulip
A major Suffolk pig business has been snapped up by international food firm Tulip, which is part of Danish Crown, for an undisclosed sum.
Easey Pigs, based at Hoxne, near Eye, grew to become a national business with a £60m to £70m turnover and employing 70 staff.
Charismatic farming entrepreneur Malcolm Easey, who died earlier this year at the age of 76, built up his father Joe's small mixed farm to become a major play, providing work for a further 175 farmers across the UK, including many in Suffolk and Norfolk, were were contracted to look after the animals on the company's behalf.
A shrewd and hard-working businessman, he decided to focus his attention on pigs and pioneered contract rearing, a model now commonplace in the sector. He paid local farmers with empty buildings to look after pigs for him, and the business took off. He was later joined in the business by sons Jonathan and Christopher.
The Danish Crown group, a co-operative owned by 7,600 Danish member farmers, is a global meat processing company and among the largest in its field. It is the world's largest pork exporter and Europe's largest pork processor.
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Tulip Ltd, which is seeking regulatory approval from the Competition & Markets Authority, said the existing management team at Easey Holdings would remain in place, and the firm would continue to operate independently with all existing staff retained.
Agriculture director Andrew Saunders said: 'This acquisition forms part of Tulip Ltd's strategic objective to further support the UK pig farming industry, allowing us to more effectively utilise our skills and expertise, capitalising on our industry-leading best practices.'
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Danish Crown chief executive Jais Valeur said the acquisition was part of measures designed to Brexit-proof the business.
Ipswich-based law firm Birketts advised Easeys on the sale deal, providing support on legal matters including from its specialist agriculture, regulatory and food teams, as well as tax and employment advice. Adrian Seagers, partner and head of corporate services, and Alexandra Nelson, senior associate, led the transaction, which was described as 'long-running and challenging', with support from Leah Finnegan, John Kahn, Paul Palik, Jennifer Leeder, Sonya O'Reilly, Ben Saraci, Edward Willis, Laura Thomas, Paul Matthews and Philippa Dyer.
Jon and Chris Easey said: 'Birketts is known throughout the industry for delivering exceptional client service and specialist legal advice. Under Adrian's and Alex's leadership, we have been thoroughly impressed by the commitment and effort of the entire team.'
Mr Seagers said: 'We are delighted to have secured the sale of this fantastic, family-owned business following a long-running and challenging transaction.
'It has been a pleasure to advise Jon and Chris Easey on a sector-leading transaction needing Birketts to co-ordinate legal skills in a number of specialist areas.'