East Anglia set to be ‘central’ to poultry and food processing giant’s growth plans
- Credit: sarah lucy brown
A food firm operating at two sites in East Anglia is ramping up its expansion following a £475m cash injection to help turn around the business.
Birmingham-based 2 Sisters said the East of England would be “a central part” of its growth plans and it is “still hiring” at its plants.
The firm operates poultry factories in Flixton, near Bungay, and in Thetford — as well as across other parts of the UK — and also has bakery, biscuits and meal solutions operations.
Flixton, which processes chicken, employs 460 people. The company’s flagship Thetford site — which opened in 2011 and produces “added value” poultry products including cooked and breaded ones — has an 810-strong workforce but is looking for 50 more workers in various departments.
MORE — 2 Sisters seeks 100 more workers at East Anglian sites as it ramps up production amid crisis“Our sites in the East of England are a central part to our growth plans,” a spokesman said.
In 2019, the firm closed under-performing sites including a poultry processing plant in Witham with a 400-strong workforce.
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Parent company Boparan Holdings Ltd has issued a new £475m bond which is due to mature in 2025 to enable the group to repay its existing bonds and loans due in 2021 in full.
Boparan has also agreed an £80m revolving credit facility with an option to bump that up to £90m.
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2 Sisters said the cash was a “significant stage” in its turnaround plans, and would “allow the business to cement its progress over the past two years and provide the funding to build on a strong full-year financial performance”.
The firm is owned by Ranjit Singh Boparan, who also separately owns Bernard Matthews turkey company, which is headquartered in Norwich and has a large factory Holton, Halesworth.
2 Sisters employs 18,000 in the UK and Europe, and processes one-third of all chicken consumed in the UK. It is also the UK’s largest ready-meals producer, with three quarters of the UK population eating its food every day.
The refinancing means the business can now push through the next stages of its development, including ramping up sales and profits in its core poultry and meals divisions, it said.
Group chief finance officer Craig Tomkinson said: “This is very good news for 2 Sisters and its stakeholders.
“It shows great confidence in our business and by securing funding until 2025, gives us the freedom to execute our plans for the future. We are very proud of our results to date in the turnaround of the business, and the de-levering of our balance sheet.
“This refinance marks a milestone in the progress of the turnaround plan, and gives a platform for further improved free cash flow generation into the future.
“Not only is this good news for our business, but all 18,000 colleagues, 16,000 members of our pension schemes, and our investors. Further, it provides security and reassurance to the thousands of jobs and livelihoods across our wider supply chain – customers, our suppliers and in turn their suppliers.
“We are upbeat about our growth plans and see further opportunities for 2021 as we prepare for a post-Covid and post-Brexit environment.”
Group chief executive Ronald Kers said it was “very gratifying” to see the strong support of investors in the new bond offering, and underlined “the market’s confidence in our business and its belief in our on-going turnaround strategy”.
“We are also pleased with the acceleration of our performance over the past 18 months, and despite the challenges that Covid brings with it, we are confident about our future plans and our ability to continue to improve our business.
“We would like to thank our bond investors for their continued support and of course all of our colleagues who have helped us to make the turnaround happen.”