Lamb business fails as contract is terminated

Unsuccesful attempts to redirect trade into export


LAMB OPERATIONS at West Country-based Lloyd Maunder have closed after the company lost a major UK supermarket account and attempts to redirect the business into the export and wholesale market failed.

The 180 staff based at the plant were told last Friday they would be losing their jobs, although there were 30 vacancies they could apply to in other areas of the business.

Speaking for Lloyd Maunder, Neil MacDonald said staff may not be too surprised at the news. "Many who have suspected low throughput recently realised that it couldn't go on much longer."

Before Sainsbury's terminated its contract, it would take 6,000 to ,000 of the 10,000 lambs killed per week at the plant.

A statement from Lloyd Maunder revealed how the company attempted to rebuild its lamb business on a broader front with new customers at home and abroad. Whilst this was met with some success, the Board was not confident that returns were viable given the further capital that would be needed to invest in these operations in the future and the requirements for capital spending were expected to yield better returns elsewhere in the business.

Director, Richard Maunder, said: "Although this is inevitably a sad and difficult day for all of us, particularly the many staff, farmers and customers who have had a relationship with the company, in some cases over three generations, it is also the start of a new chapter. "The company's trading patterns have had to adapt to market forces many times over in its 108 years, relying on flexibility, quality and innovation to win business in the face of ever stronger competition and changing retailing methods. What we are seeing now is part of that on-going process."

The company won the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) Award last year and hoped that efforts to focus the business into other markets would pay off.

Mr MacDonald said: "That was our expectation at the time. Since then the orders haven't come through, to the extent where we had to take a major review of operations."

Consultation has now begun with the Transport & General Workers Union regarding the workforce immediately affected and restructuring required. It is intended that slaughtering of lamb will cease on Friday 24 February.

The company will now concentrate on its successful poultry operations, along with further processed meats and sausage production, and with the development of the successful retail chain of Lloyd Maunder butcher's shops, as well as the Dewhurst chain of shops.

Richard Ali, chief executive of EBLEX, said: "The whole sheep industry will be saddened by the loss of this well respected plant. We know Lloyd Maunder has, along with the rest of the industry, found the trading position extremely hard but we wish the business well in the future in its chosen venture."

Martin Grantley-Smith, RMIF Manager said RMIF were saddened to hear of the closure of Lloyd Maunders' lamb business last week. "Lloyd Maunder was an early participant in RMIF business improvement activities. They were winners of the RMIF Award for Supply Chain Excellence in 2005 because in the judges' opinion they had done more than anyone to embed the culture of continuous improvement into their business. The improvement principles they adopted are equally applicable to all aspects of their business and we hope that this will assist them in developing new profitable enterprises in the future."

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