business

Ranjit Boparan rescues 'struggling' Bernard Matthews

Renowned British turkey brand has been acquired in pre-pack administration deal by Birmingham's so-called 'chicken deal' as Ranjit Boparan's food empire continues to grow

Ranjit Boparan has bought Bernard Matthews(Image: Pic: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Birmingham chicken entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan has bought loss-making turkey business Bernard Matthews.

Mr Boparan's private office has acquired the struggling business from its private equity owner Rutland Partners through a pre-pack administration.

This latest deal has safeguarded 2,000 jobs at Bernard Matthews' production sites in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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Mr Boparan and his wife Baljinder co-founded 2 Sisters Food Group, which is not part of this deal, and are now said to be worth £850 million, ranking sixth in the 2016 Birmingham Post Rich List.

A statement from Mr Boparan's private office said: "This acquisition will create a strong platform for future growth and ensures Bernard Matthews is well positioned to develop into a sustainable, growing business.

"We intend to respect and build on the 66-year heritage of a much-loved British brand and crucially help to deliver Christmas 2016, which would have been at risk without our intervention.

"We have a proven track record in turning around businesses and we aim to make Bernard Matthews great again.

"This deal is ultimately good news for UK consumers and our customers, who will benefit from a secure supply of British turkey from one of the most recognisable brands in the UK."

The deal, whose financial terms have not been disclosed, does not include the Bernard Matthews pension scheme which is likely to fall into the Pension Protection Fund.

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Rutland Partners said in a statement: "We have invested significant funds into the Bernard Matthews business and brand over the last three years in a continually challenging market.

"While disappointed that the business has continued to struggle during our ownership, we are pleased it has now been acquired by Ranjit Boparan with access to a large UK poultry group and that all the jobs have been preserved."

The takeover has been given a "cautious welcome" by trade union Unite, which represents around 800 Bernard Matthews staff, but said it was seeking further clarification over terms and conditions, pay and pensions.

Regional officer Steve Harley added: "Bernard Matthews is a major employer in East Anglia and the union wants to work constructively with the new ownership to ensure the continuing success of this iconic company.

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