Vion to sell UK operations

Vion has announced plans to sell off its UK operations to concentrate on its European operations.

The announcement confirms months of speculation about the business which has seen a series of high profile setbacks, most recently the decision to close its Scottish pork operation, Halls of Broxburn.

A report in the Sunday Times at the weekend claimed the processing giant had employed Rothschilds to oversee the sale, an article which the company initially declined to comment on.

However, in a statement released this afternoon, Vion said it had now "embarked on a process to sell its UK food businesses to concentrate on its core markets in the Netherlands and Germany and the development of its global ingredients business".

It added that it was confident it would successfully sell all its UK pork, red meat and poultry business units as ongoing viable businesses. The company employs more than 13,000 people in multiple sites across the UK.

Peter Barr, chairman of VION UK said: "Working with our advisors Rabobank/Rothschild, we have already started detailed discussions with a number of interested parties, including management, regarding the acquisition of the various parts of the UK business and these are progressing well.

"The level of interest in the businesses has been strong and we hope to be in a position in the near future to give further details about the progress which has been made.

"The sale process will be completed in a smooth and orderly fashion to ensure business continuity for our employees, agricultural and other suppliers and our customers."

The company initially came into the UK market in the late 1990s with the acquistion of Key Country Foods, however, it stepped up a gear with the purchase of the troubled Grampian Country Food Group in 2008.