Growth on the menu as Ebco gobbles up rival poultry farms

A Yorkshire poultry firm has doubled its size by buying five poultry farms from Sullivans Poultry Group, a subisidiary of Peterborough-based national pig and poultry animal feed company ABN.

The farms in Cambridge, Worksop and Riccall, near York, have been acquired by Bilbrough-based Ebco Holdings in a multi-million pound deal. Both parties refused to divulge the sum.

Ebco director Edward Barker: "This is our biggest acquisition to date and a major deal for Ebco. We took this step because there is a serious future in the UK poultry industry for good quality medium-to-large independent enterprises.

"This deal enables us to move from being a medium-sized independent into one of the largest independents to provide a high quality, high volume weekly supply."

Phil Woodstock, livestock solutions director at ABN, said: "This is a good deal for both parties. Sullivans can now focus on procuring and marketing chicken to our processing customers and Ebco will be able to use its considerable farm management skills and economies of scale to optimise returns from these poultry units.

Woodstock added that ABN will continue to provide feed and nutritional advice to these farms and that Sullivans will continue to buy broilers from Ebco to sell to supermarkets.

UK farmers produced 1.6mt of poultry meat in 2004, second only to France in the European Union and exports were worth

£247m in 2004.