UK-based poultry company, 2 Sisters Food Group, which already supplies a wide variety of products to retail, food service and manufacturing companies around the world, has acquired a new Dutch base to provide it with a platform to expand further into Central and Eastern Europe.

Ranjit Singh, chief executive of 2 Sisters, a subsidiary of Boparan Holdings, commenting on the purchase of the Storteboom Group said: “Our aim is to increase market share and become the customer’s number one choice for quality, safety and value within the European market.”

The Dutch company brings a total slaughtering capacity of some 3 million birds per week. Its most recent reported sales stood at Euro 400 million (US$514 million).

With the addition of this poultry processing business, that already supplies a large section of the European market with fresh and frozen chicken products, and that has production sites in the Netherlands and Poland, the company expects to see its turnover rise from GBP750 million (US$1.14 billion) to more than GBP1 billion annually, making it the largest British-owned processor of chicken.

2 Sisters, headquartered in the West Midlands, now has a total of 13 manufacturing sites in the UK, six in the Netherlands, and one in Poland. With the addition of Storteboom’s 1,200 staff, the business, now employs some 7,000 people.

2 Sisters is split into three divisions:

  • Primary slaughter and primary processing, including a wide selection of specialist chicken;
  • Cutting – portion processing across a wide selection of specialist chicken; and
  • Prepared - breaded and roast chicken, ready meals, savoury liquids (stocks, sauces, gravies and soups), ready-to-cook, BBQ and component meats.

Each of its sites is said to be “unique,” with the equipment and specialist staff needed to support high animal welfare and production standards, and all sites are regularly and independently audited in full accordance with both UK and European legislation.

As far as sourcing of poultry is concerned, 2 Sisters says that it works in close partnership with dedicated producers, who adhere to strict guidelines concerning feed supply, breeder rearing, laying and hatcheries and broiler production to maintain consistency, and quality. Food safety standards and HACCP principles apply across the whole operation to provide assurance of the provenance and full traceability of the chickens.

Founded by Ranjit Singh in 1993, 2 Sisters has grown rapidly over the past 17 years from a small-scale frozen retail cutting operation into what many now see as a highly successful international food business focusing on the poultry sector.

While 2 Sisters is still predominantly a private label manufacturer, it also produces a number of branded products, such as Buxted Original and Devonshire Red. It supplies raw and prepared chicken products, as well as ready meals to markets across Europe and is now looking to take its products even further afield.

Global ambitions  

“Our intention is to grow the business into a global player and we’d like to take protein to the four corners of the world, providing consumers with a choice for every occasion” said a spokesman for the company.

"We are always exploring opportunities to grow the business and supply our customers with the best quality product at the lowest cost in line with market demands and consumer trends. We aim to be the most progressive, professional and innovative supplier to each of our valued suppliers.”

2 Sisters believes it can do this by creating balanced and sustainable relationships across a number of commercial and technical disciplines, managing the sales mix to optimise value-adding opportunities and providing pro-active product development and processing programmes to drive progress.

To this end, it employs a special team of development professionals who work across all the divisions to deliver innovative products, packaging and processing. It is also working closely with other experts to help it develop more efficient and cost-effective supply chains in its search for continued growth.

Branching out  

In an interesting new departure into seafood, 2 Sisters has purchased the popular UK fish and chips retailer, Harry Ramsden’s and Fishworks, as well as Five Star Fish, which supplies quality fish and seafood to the food service sector.

Asked the reasons behind this new venture and whether there were any synergies between the seafood business and the company’s poultry operations, the spokesman explained: “Our poultry operation has always sought to focus on what we do best and work with experts in other fields. Experience suggests this has enabled us to produce a better product for less, which is good news for our customers.

“We plan to apply our learning from the poultry sector to this popular alternative protein and we see opportunities to take an iconic brand like Harry Ramsden’s to India and China in the medium term. But the immediate priority is to get everything right at home first, with expected benefits from savings in energy purchases, packaging, transport and distribution.

“Fish and chips is one of those dishes that crosses religions and cultures and we see no reason why British bands can’t be strong at home and overseas too” he added.

The two businesses will operate separately, but observers believe this new operation could also help 2 Sisters open up supply chains to help it expand sales of its poultry products into China and India and other Far East outlets, in line with its stated objective of providing consumers in the four corners of the world with a choice of protein for every occasion.

The company insists that its success is down to putting customers first by understanding their needs, along with the changing dynamics of the market, while promoting a culture of continuous improvement within the business to drive performance.

Quizzed about the prospects for the poultry industry in the UK and EU, the spokesman said they expected further consolidation in the poultry sector and the wider protein market.

The market has already seen recent deals between Moy Park and O’Kane Poultry and the acquisition of Lincs Turkeys by Bernard Matthews. More deals could be in the pipeline as other companies look to grow, become more efficient and save costs.

Meanwhile, 2 Sisters is also expecting a greater polarisation of the industry at farm level within the EU, “with British farmers, who have always been passionate about what they do, at the forefront of future developments”.

This could lead to the majority of farms getting bigger so that they, too, can enjoy the benefits achieved through economies of scale, said the spokesman. However, at the same time, he thought it likely that a number of the smaller specialist family-style farms would decide to stay viable by staying small so that they could focus on producing higher value products for the lucrative niche markets that were springing up in several regions.