Duff & Phelps helps secure future of Banham Poultry

09 October 2018 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

More than 1,000 jobs have been safeguarded by the sale of one of Norfolk’s largest employers. Banham Poultry had lapsed into administration; however, Duff & Phelps is understood to have helped broker a deal to keep the meat producer in business.

Banham Poultry has been trading since 1965 and has a turnover of approximately £100 million per year. The poultry producer is based in Attleborough, Norfolk, and is among the county’s largest employers, with a headcount in excess of 1,100. The business specialises in chicken production and its products are sold in grocery stores and small supermarkets around the UK, processing over 1,200,000 birds a week. Despite its long history, however, the company’s future in the region was suddenly cast into doubt in 2018, amid confusion surrounding a proposed sale.

Initially wrongfully reported by a local Member of Parliament as an administration procedure, the plant was in fact made available for purchase by its owners. George Freeman, the Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, had tweeted that the company had gone into administration, but later issued a clarification. According to a further tweet from Freeman, “I understand not in administration but Lloyd’s bank pushing in that direction if a buyer cannot be secured.”

Duff & Phelps helps secure future of Banham Poultry

Banham’s Chief Executive Martyn Bromley denied this, instead stating it had been "a complete misunderstanding", and he was currently in discussions with Big Four auditing and advisory firm EY about "doing a deal." He added, "We're in negotiation to find the right home for the business... We have currently got the support of the bank and EY to make sure that all suppliers and employees are going to be paid until a transaction has been transacted."

According to Bromley, trade had "not been good for the last two or three months", and the news of the prospective sale came at a difficult time for the company. Earlier in October, two men – aged in their 30s and 40s – from a pest control company died at the poultry firm's factory, after a suspected gas leak.

At the time, Bromley suggested his "main objective" was to "maintain employment in Attleborough," but he also confirmed that the option of closure was indeed still on the table. As it turned out, the initial reporting of MP George Freeman had not been entirely wrong. While at that point, administrators had not been appointed, days later the firm was forced to do just that.

Allan Graham and Trevor Birch, both of Duff & Phelps, were appointed joint administrators, and on appointment, they secured the sale of the businesses, saving both jobs and guaranteeing no breach of animal welfare regulations in the process.

Allan Graham stated, “The business has faced a perfect storm in recent months, with increasing margin pressures from supermarket chains as a result of price competition, combined with increases in feed prices. It had been undertaking a number of capital projects designed to improve productivity in the longer term but these have impacted short term profitability which in turn has hit margin.”

In a statement following the purchase, Nadeem Iqbal, joint director of Chesterfield Poultry, told the media he saw a bright future for the company. He added, "All the jobs are secure. It's no good having a factory if we have not got a workforce... We see Banham Poultry as a growing business."

Banham Poultry had been bid for by two companies prior to administration, with one planning to shut the business down. Fortunately for the 1,000 strong workforce in Attleborough, Norfolk, that offer was declined in favour of Chesterfield Poultry.

Related: FRP to administrate farmer-owned Angus Cereals.