It’s been another busy year for Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan Singh’s 2 Sisters Food Group, with more acquisitions, strong sales, new facilities and some new blood to keep driving the business forward.
In June the Office of Fair Trading gave unconditional clearance for the acquisition of VION UK’s poultry and red meat businesses, adding £1 billion of annual sales to the group’s growing turnover. The 2 Sisters Group acquired VION UK’s 11 sites in Wales, Scotland and the south of England.
With the addition of the VION business, 2 Sisters now operates from 47 sites in the UK and Ireland, six in Holland and one in Poland.
Total workforce is around 24,000 employees and the company’s annual turnover exceeds £2.8 billion, having jumped by 23 per cent over the last year.
Sales for the Boparan’s food businesses continue to be healthy, although performance in the year to July 2013 was hit by the horsemeat scandal on the food sector, the costs of the VION acquisition and generally tight trading conditions.
The company posted a pre-tax loss of £33.5 million, down from a profit of £42.5 million the previous year. Operating profit was £92.2 million while net debt rose by £32.9 million to £566.7 million.
The group says it is on course to break even in 2014 and was taking actions to improve performance. These include consolidation of the company’s processing facilities involving factory closures in Leicester and Suffolk, with work transferred to other sites.
In September the group opened a new £1 million food safety laboratory where almost a million food samples will be tested each year.
The laboratory, based on Nottingham’s BioCity Laurus site, was officially opened by Catherine Brown, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, and has a team of 60 micro-biologists ready to eat and ready to cook foods ranging from ready meals, pizzas and salads to biscuits.
Also in September Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe joined the 2 Sisters board as a non-executive director.
Dame Lucy, a former member of John Major’s Policy Unit served on the board of Tesco for seven years.
The West Bromwich-based company – best known for its Buxted brand of whole chickens and chicken dishes – has achieved continued success despite spiralling ingredient costs and tight margins which are putting pressure on food manufacturers.
The company also owns fish and chip restaurant chain Harry Ramsdens and has also signed a licensing agreement with Premier Foods to make and sell Hovis breakfast biscuits. The biscuits are made at Boparan’s Fox’s Biscuits plant in Uttoxeter.
The Boparans’ business was founded in 1993 and remains a private company, with husband and wife team Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan Singh the sole shareholders of Boparan Holdings. Ranjit Singh is chief executive. The UK flagship of the group is its Scunthorpe processing plant which has been operating for more than 20 years. After a major investment programme it is now one of the most modern and best equipped food processing plants in Europe.
The company lists most UK supermarkets among its customers, along with British Airways, Harrods and KFC.
The company picks up awards for its business success, and Ranjit Singh won The Grocer Cup for outstanding business achievement at the IGD food industry awards.
The Boparans – both 46 – are very keen on training and developing their workforce and are proud of their record of putting employees through NVQs on factory and farm production. They also support, along with retail partner Sainsbury’s, a Government-sponsored graduate scheme aimed at targeting new talent for the future of British agriculture.
As well as their food businesses they also have property interests.