Dutch-based food producer Vion NV has reached an agreement for a management buy-out of its UK pork operations, securing around 4,000 jobs, subject to Competition Authority approval in Ireland.

The deal, led by Seamus Carr, managing director of Vion’s pork business unit, is backed by UK private equity firm Endless, and follows Vion’s November announcement that it was selling its UK food operations to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business.

Vion’s UK pork facilities are located in Wiveliscombe, Malton, Haverhill, Scunthorpe, Hull, Stoke and Enfield in England, at Cookstown in Northern Ireland and the pig farming and feed mill operation in Scotland at Brydock, Aberdeenshire. In addition, Vion operates the McGees butchers business in the Republic of Ireland. “Vion’s decision to sell its UK business naturally caused a degree of uncertainty amongst staff, suppliers and customers,” said Carr, who will be managing director of the new company. “Therefore, I’m very pleased that we have quickly been able to agree a deal for the pork business which secures the future for our staff, our suppliers and gives our customers a seamless transition. Our ambitions for the new business are firstly to maintain the excellent levels of service and product quality which have helped us secure orders from all the major supermarkets, and then to build upon the opportunities in the marketplace to grow the business.”

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Peter Barr, chairman of Vion UK, said he welcomed the management buy-out. “When we announced our intention to sell, we highlighted the viability of the UK businesses and the strong interest from prospective purchasers,” said Barr. “The swiftness with which we’ve been able to agree a deal with the management team of the pork business unit, which knows the company inside-out, underlines our confidence in the sales process. It’s therefore very encouraging that the pork business unit should be the subject of a successful and swift sale and this augurs well for our ongoing discussions with prospective buyers of the remaining areas of the business.”

Vion said it will now be focusing its attentions on securing the sales of its remaining poultry and red meat operations in the UK, which employ around 8,000 people. “Both businesses remain profitable and cash-generative and are generating significant interest from prospective purchaser,” said Barr.