Vion signs deal for Grampian

The Vion Food Group has announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Grampian, one of the UK largest food companies, for an undisclosed sum.

The news ends months of speculation over the future of Grampian, and sees Vion, which already has operations in fresh pork, bacon and sausage in the UK, strengthen its position in the country.

The move follows on from the company's stated ambition to make the UK its third "home" market, on top of the Netherlands and Germany. A new division, Vion UK, has been created which will see all UK operations managed by a dedicated team within the UK itself, the company revealed.

Heading up the division will be Ton Christiaanse, former COO of VION's Convenience Division. Peter Barr, formerly chairman of the Meat & Livestock Commission, has also been appointed as non-executive Chairman of the Board of VION UK.

The deal has now been submitted to the competition authorities.

Daan van Doorn, chairman of Vion, said: "This announcement is evidence of the great importance VION attaches to the UK market. At the heart of VION's business is a 'Passion for Better Food' and Grampian is key to developing this strategy.

"The combined group will become a major player in the UK food industry. Together with Grampian's management we want to further intensify the cooperation with our retail clients by investing in Grampian, sharing knowledge and developing partnerships."

Eddie Power, Grampian's group managing director, said: "This is an excellent outcome to the process which has been ongoing for some months and brings an end to speculation surrounding the Grampian business.

"Vion has a successful track record in both meat processing and convenience foods for many years in Europe, and latterly in the UK. We are confident that the combined UK based companies, which will continue to be managed from the UK, will benefit from the major strengths that this unique combination will provide."

He added: "Vion has ambitious plans for investment, development and growth in the UK from which the Grampian business and its farmer suppliers will benefit."

Rob Smith, UK communications manager for Vion, said it was too early to go into detail on the deal but stressed the move was about investing and building on its UK operations.

"Vion has a track record of investing in businesses and its decision was based on building business. The UK is an extremely important market for us and there's a good fit of skills between Vion and Grampian that can drive the business forward."

The deal adds to Vion's UK portfolio, which already includes bacon processor, Key Country Foods and J&J Tranfield, a leading supplier and manufacturer of pizza and sausages.

Grampian has interests in chicken, pork, beef and lamb, employs 17,500 and has a turnover of £1.7bn.

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