The head of one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, Moy Park, has moved to calm fears over the future of the business which has been put on the market by its owner.
CEO Janet McCollum said it was business as usual for the Craigavon-based poultry giant firm which has been put up for sale by the debt-strapped Brazilian conglomerate JBS.
“Earlier today, JBS S.A. announced a programme of divestment focused on strengthening JBS’s financial position through net debt reduction,” Ms McCollum said.
“The assets currently under consideration for sale include the Moy Park business.
“Moy Park is a successful and growing food business with a solid financial standing. I have no doubt that our success is due to the great strengths of this business – our exceptional people, innovation and performance.
“I also know that this will ensure our continued growth and stability well into the future.
“Our priority remains business as usual – delivering outstanding quality, innovation and service to our customers and consumers.”
Founded in 1943, Moy Park is collectively the largest poultry processor in the province and also operates in GB making it one of the UK’s 15 biggest food companies.
The sale comes as JBS faces a political scandal two years after it bought Moy Park from Brazilian rival Marfrig.
However, the union Unite called on political leaders in the province to make sure the firm did not risk asset stripping as a result of the sale and said any new owners must respect rights of the three thousand Unite members among the workforce in Northern Ireland
“Moy Park employs 12,000 thousand workers across the UK, with almost half based at its operations in Northern Ireland; making it the most regionally significant employer here.”
Mr McKeever said the announcement of the sale cast a shadow at a time when the the firm already faced “extensive uncertainties” as a result of Brexit.
“We are seeking assurances that any new owner will demonstrate their long-term commitment to our three thousand members in the company. We want to see a meaningful investment plan and confirmation that they will continue to engage with Unite as the representative body for more than half the workforce.
“We would be very concerned that this announced sale, coming within a year of its previous acquisition by JBS, may open the door to venture capitalists.
“They would have no interest in the workforce but would buy the company for its order book, intent on asset-stripping the business for short-term profit.”