Public services blow as Welsh firm goes under

Public sector catering agencies in Wales are urgently looking for alternative meat suppliers after Welsh meat processor T H Sutcliffe went into receivership with a loss of 100 jobs last week.

The Caernafon abattoir in Gwynedd and the cutting plant in Newport supplied meat to all ten NHS Trusts in South Wales and to four local authorities in North Wales.

June Scott, Contracts Manager, for Welsh Health Supplies (WHS), told the Journal that arrangements were being made by WHS to ensure continuity of supply. "We have stock in the system to keep us going but we are keen to get alternative supplies organised in the meantime."

Welsh Health Supplies will now be duty bound to put its supply contracts out to tender as required by EU Procurement law which inevitably will be a time consuming and lengthy process.

A spokesman for T H Sutcliffe told the Journal the company's problems stemmed from the high price of beef since it became clear the EU export ban was to be lifted.

The Caernafon plant was bought by T H Sutcliffe from receivers of the previous company Cwmni Cig Arfon 18 months ago after that went into administration with debts of £3 million, £1.8m of which was owed to local farmers.

A Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) spokesman said he was disappointed and also confirmed that a lot a "number" of farmers were waiting to be paid for stock.

"I am disappointed with this news especially since it happened so soon after the company took over the Caenarfon plant."

Gwyn Howells, chief executive of HCC/Meat Promotion Wales told the Journal the event was a sad loss for the industry at a critical time with new opportunities on the horizon. "With the listing of the Over Thirty Month (OTM) and Date Based Export Scheme it is a particular loss for North Wales where there is a lack of beef processing facilities."

The administration is in the hands of Baker Tilly of Bristol.