£60m poultry factory, set to employ 700 workers, under construction in Eye

Construction begins at Cranswick’s Eye facility Picture: CRANSWICK

Construction begins at Cranswicks Eye facility Picture: CRANSWICK - Credit: Archant

Work has begun on what is described as one of the most advanced poultry factories in Europe, which is taking shape in Eye.

Construction begins at Cranswick’s Eye facility Picture: CRANSWICK

Construction begins at Cranswicks Eye facility Picture: CRANSWICK - Credit: Archant

Meat giant Cranswick’s £60m Suffolk facility, set to employ more than 700 staff, follows its purchase of Crown Chicken, based in Weybread in south west Norfolk and Kenninghall in north Suffolk, in 2016, and a period of ‘exciting growth’.

Of the 700-strong workforce at the new factory, around 300 new jobs will be created in the region, and the rest transferred from Cranswick’s existing production plant in Weybread.

The firm, which employs more than 10,000 people across 16 facilities in the UK, including three processing sites and pig and chicken farming operations across Suffolk and Norfolk employing more than 2,000, supplies poultry, sausage, pork, chicken and cooked meat products. These are sold primarily under retailers’ own labels including Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ and Tesco ‘Finest’.

The ambitious scheme takes place against a backdrop of challenges, structural change and consolidation within the poultry sector. Earlier this month (October), Derbyshire-based Chesterfield Poultry bought the assets of Banham Poultry in a pre-pack administration, in which the assets of a company are bought, but its debt left behind. The sale followed a summer of rising costs and falling trade which left the Attleborough-based firm in financial difficulties, but already, Chesterfield has begun recruiting a further 100 workers to its 1,000-strong workforce in Norfolk.

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In addition to the Eye project, the largest single investment undertaken by Cranswick, the firm says it will be investing around £70m across its farming and feed-milling infrastructure.

David Park, managing director of Cranswick Poultry, said: “The project at Eye is very exciting and will create one of the most advanced poultry sites in Europe. Since acquiring Crown Chicken in April 2016, we have been committed to ensuring work on the site is carried out by local companies. We are excited to welcome existing team members to the new site at Eye and look forward to creating around 300 new jobs in the region.”

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More than £10m of project costs have gone to local contractors, including A £6m groundworks contract with nearby JH Vaudrey & Son, a £1.5m steelworks contract to A C Bacon of Hingham, and £1.5m roofing deal with JBC Roofing of Kings Lynn. The project includes 1,000 tonnes of structural steelwork and 10,000 tonnes of concrete foundations.

Ian Trundley, managing director of Trundley Design Services, of Kings Lynn, which has managed the project design, said: “After over a year in the designing and planning phase with Cranswick, we are delighted that the building of the new food processing facility has commenced and is currently on schedule for completion in October 2019. It is very rewarding to see the building work come to life and our dedicated project team remain focused on the continued delivery of this prestigious project.”

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