Vion to close Hall’s of Broxburn

Vion to close Hall’s of Broxburn

Following the end of a 90-day consultation period Vion UK is to implement a phased closure of Hall’s of Broxburn.

Vion chairman, Peter Barr said: “We have done everything in our power to avoid having to take this extremely regrettable action but we have been unable to identify any viable alternative to the closure of the plant. This is a very sad day for all those involved, but, unfortunately the unsustainable losses, which the plant continues to suffer, combined with the challenging economic conditions across all food sectors, have left us with no alternative.

“As we outlined when we made our initial announcement in July, Vion has invested tens of millions of pounds in the Hall’s site over a number of years but it continues to record unsustainable losses. The outdated and inefficient layout of the site, overcapacity in the marketplace and increasing costs mean that it has been loss making for a number of years, a position we can no longer sustain.”

Reacting to the news Scotland’s pig farmers are calling for a positive reaction from trade and Scottish Government to the closure. NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chairman, Philip Sleigh said: “While the phased closure of Halls is a blow to the Scottish pig sector, discussions throughout the 90-day period have never raised expectations that a significantly different outcome would emerge and so this is the news most were expecting. Our thoughts go to the staff of the plant.

“There are some positives. A phased closure suggests there will be an outlet for Scottish pigs through Halls from now until Christmas and into the New Year. That is welcome and it also gives the industry time to look at new or alternative outlets for our pigs. That will involve discussions with processors in Scotland and England.

“The interest expressed in parts of the plant by a small number of parties holds out some hope that elements of the Halls operation may yet be salvaged for the industry.

“Although this is a blow, I believe we have an industry worth building again. Even during the 90-day consultation period on Halls, Scotland’s sow herd will have shrunk with soaring feed prices and a limited improvement in price prompting some to put their herds away. We need to turn that around.

“The job starts now of finding new processing partners who share our positive vision for the Scottish pig sector and the attitude of retailers to stocking Scottish pig products will be key. This week’s examination of shop shelves by NFU Scotland shows that there are a number of supermarkets that could significantly increase their commitment to Scottish pork.

“The pigs task force that met in July to discuss the ramifications that the closure of Halls might bring must meet again as a matter of priority and I call on Richard Lochhead to reconvene this group to kick-start the process of re-building our pig sector.”

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