Job Cuts Warning

The meat industry could be facing job cuts in the thousands over the next 12 months, analysts have warned.

More than 7,000 jobs will be affected by further consolidation across the sector, according to research by Plimsoll in its annual analysis of the meat industry. The study coincides with a British Chamber of Commerce survey, which suggests unemployment could rise by up to 300,000 over the next 12 months as the UK economy experiences a "prolonged and bumpy landing".

The Plimsoll study looks at each of the 1,002 leading UK companies and assesses each businesses chance of survival. The report reveals:

? 7,267 jobs could go, as companies seek to get costs in line with sales

? As many as three-quarters of the firms analysed will need to reduced their head count

? One of the largest firms could see up to 843 jobs lost alone

? Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed are already running at a loss

? Companies need to aim for at least £283,000 sales per employee in order to stay competitive.

Of the 1,002 firms individually assessed, Plimsoll said 194 were in danger and needed to take drastic action to survive. A further 349 companies need only to "tweak" their businesses, making small and simple changes.

Meanwhile, 459 companies are currently leading the market with sales per employee figures of well over £333,000. These super-productive firms are generating over £8,000 worth of profit per employee and are well-equipped to see out the next 12 months in good shape, almost certainly prospering from their weaker competitors' demise.

David Pattison, senior analyst with Plimsoll, said: "The 194 companies we have identified as in danger need to act now if they are to survive. It very important they review their entire business cost base and take action to significantly reduce their outgoings.

"While job losses are undoubtedly bad news for any company, such decisive action may be called for to guarantee the ultimate survival of the business - even if this means the business is 30-50% smaller than it was."

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