Boparan poised to buy Bernard Matthews
Published:  20 September, 2016

Rumours of a purchase of poultry processor Bernard Matthews are premature, according to Boparan Holdings.

A brief press statement issued at 7pm on 20 September from Boparan Holdings, the parent company for 2 Sisters Food Group, read: "As of 19.00 hrs today, no acquisition has been made. We will update you if circumstances change."

However, according to trades union Unite, staff at Bernard Matthews were told an agreement had been reached about the acquisition earlier in the day. Unite has already welcomed reports that an agreement had been reached and The Telegraph was also reporting that a pre-pack deal had been reached.

Unite regional officer Steve Harley said: “The announcement that Bernard Matthews has been sold by its owners Rutland Partners ... appears to be good news for the 2,000-strong workforce. We are giving the news a cautious welcome.

“However, in takeover situations, there are always matters that need to be clarified. Unite is meeting the company tomorrow where searching questions will be asked on future employment, pay, and terms and conditions.

“We will also be asking about the status of the pension scheme under the new owners, although it is expected that our members won’t be affected in this respect by today’s takeover. Bernard Matthews is a major employer in East Anglia and the union wants to work constructively with the new ownership to ensure the continuing success of this iconic company.”

Unite represents about 800 of the 2,000-strong workforce at Bernard Matthews’ producing sites at Great Witchingham and Holton in Suffolk, as well as the animal food mill at Bawsey, near King’s Lynn.

There was speculation over the future of Bernard Matthews over the summer after Rutland Partners appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to look for possible buyers.

Reports that the deal was close to being finalised were reported by Meat Trades Journal and other media yesterday (19 September).

However, Unite had expressed concern regarding plans for Bernard Matthews’ pension fund to be transferred to the Pension Protection Fund. No further clarification has been given about this as yet, but Unite is expecting to meet Bernard Matthews’ management team to discuss details of the sale at 10am tomorrow (21 September).

MTJ was awaiting official statements from Bernard Matthews, 2 Sisters Food Group and Deloitte as this article was being published. Rutland Partners and administrators at Deloitte are reportedly in the process of filing papers at the high court that would transfer ownership of all Bernard Matthews assets to 2 Sisters.