Turkey giant Bernard Matthews’ new boss plans to make brand ‘great again’

Chris Just, the new chief executive officer at Bernard Matthews. Picture: ANDREW SHERWOOD

Chris Just, the new chief executive officer at Bernard Matthews. Picture: ANDREW SHERWOOD - Credit: Archant

The new boss of East Anglia-based turkey giant Bernard Matthews said he plans to make the brand “great again”.

Food firm high-flyer Chris Just, who has been appointed chief executive officer at the family food firm, said he was excited at the challenge.

Bernard Matthews Foods, launched in 1950, became the largest and most recognised turkey farmer and producer in the UK.

Today, the company supplies fresh, frozen and cooked turkey products to more than 6.8m households every year. It is a major employer in Norfolk and Suffolk, with a workforce of more than 1,300, including at its plant at Holton, near Halesworth, and its headquarters at Great Witchingham.

It has been through a difficult time in recent years, coming close to collapse in 2013, when Rutland Partners stepped in, and tried to lead a turnaround.

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In 2016. the Boparan Private Office, owned by food tycoon and 2 Sisters Food Group entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan, known as the “Chicken King”, bought the firm in a pre-pack deal in 2016 from Rutland Partners, saving 2,000 jobs after the firm posted pre-tax losses of £5.2m.

Mr Just started his career in factory management, serving as operations director at several cooked meat businesses. He later led Tranfoods and Parkam Food Group during periods of considerable development and as group commercial director at Browns Food Group was responsible for substantial sales growth of its cooked meat range. He was awarded an honorary fellowship for his outstanding achievements by the Royal Society of Arts in 2008.

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“I’m excited by this new challenge and the great opportunity to build on the heritage of this much-loved British brand,” he said. “My intention is to create a solid foundation upon which we can grow the business and make Bernard Matthews great again.”

A spokesperson for Bernard Matthews said: “Chris is an experienced CEO with substantial knowledge in business leadership and commercial expertise with more than 30 years’ in food manufacturing and retail. His track record demonstrates his determination to drive food businesses forward and in doing so help them fulfill their potential.”

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