Fears for future of Norfolk poultry firm

Job losses at a Norfolk poultry factory were last night described as “inevitable” as it entered into a 90 day consultation with staff over its future. Bosses at Grampian Country Food Group have said that jobs will go at its Attleborough site but that they are not yet in a position to speculate on numbers of losses.

Job losses at a Norfolk poultry factory were last night described as “inevitable” as it entered into a 90 day consultation with staff over its future.

Bosses at Grampian Country Food Group have said that jobs will go at its Attleborough site but that they are not yet in a position to speculate on numbers of losses.

Grampian spokesman Alasdair Cox said the site, which employs 300 full time staff, had been losing a “significant amount of money” as a result of a decline in the breaded poultry market.

The site supplies breaded poultry products to a number of outlets including major supermarkets, smaller wholesalers and fast food giant KFC. Last night Mr Cox denied suggestions that the job losses were connected to speculation over the loss of a contract with KFC.

He said: “That is not the case. KFC is one of our customers but our Attleborough site supplies a number of other retailers such as major supermarkets and also the food service sector. We supply quite a cross section of different retailers. The Attleborough site has been losing a significant amount of money and regrettably I think job loses will be inevitable.

“That is why we told staff about the 90 day consultation process yesterday morning. We will be looking at measures to try to reduce those losses and we are working with staff to look for alternative employment and are keeping in dialogue with them.”

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Mr Cox said the breaded poultry market, which includes products like chicken kievs and chicken nuggets, had been in decline for some time.

“This site has directed itself towards these kinds of products,” he said. It is a very competitive market.”

He added: “This has absolutely nothing to do with bird flu. It is about market trends. The market has been in decline for some time.”

The Aberdeen-based Grampian Country Food Group, which has sites around the UK, acquired the Attleborough site from Sovereign Foods in 1996. Mr Cox said that Breckland Council had approached the company to offer assistance to the workers.

Tom Strang, the site's managing director, said that it had tried to diversify into other sectors to grow the business.

“Unfortunately this has not been fully successful and for some time now the business has been unprofitable. We will now enter into a 90 day consultation process with our employees concerning the future of the site,” he said.

The company says it does not envisage that any potential redundancies will take place before February 18 next year.

Grampian says that it will be consulting with employees and their nominated representatives to explore ways of avoiding redundancies, including securing alternative employment either within the group or with companies in the locality.

Last night a KFC spokesman said that they continued to work with the Attleborough site and there had been no cancelled contract. “We would like to express our support for Grampian and its employees at this difficult time. We are just one of many companies supplied by this site and as long term partners, we will continue to work with them at their other locations,” she said.

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