Food producer Cranswick removes Brexit disruption as 'material risk' after 500 Filipino workers hired

Post-Brexit recruitment pressures on Yorkshire food production giant Cranswick have eased after being allowed to hire almost 500 Filipino butchers, its chief executive has said.

In late 2021, the company told MPs that “each of the Cranswick sites have been affected by the widely reported skilled butcher shortage, as a result of Brexit and the lack of qualified British butchers”.

It called for improvements to the system around skilled worker visas and has subsequently been able to recruit hundreds of new staff from the Philippines.

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Brexit-related disruption has now been removed as a “material risk” in the company’s latest accounts.

Adam Couch told The Yorkshire Post that the East Yorkshire-based firm, which employs more than 14,000 people across the country, is now in improved position when it comes to staffing levels.

"The recruitment pressure was probably most acute maybe two or three years ago,” he said.

"We asked the Government for assistance and we were allowed to bring in staff from the Philippines.

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"We will now be approaching 500 staff from the Philippines within the factories to complement our existing guys as well.

Cranswick specialises in poultry and pork productsCranswick specialises in poultry and pork products
Cranswick specialises in poultry and pork products

"They are an absolutely amazing addition to the team.

"The situation is nowhere near as acute as it would have been a couple of years ago. To a greater extent it has eased.”

The company’s latest half-year results for the six months to September 23, published earlier this week, did list “recruitment and retention of key personnel” as among the principal risks and uncertainties facing the group.

But it also noted a downgrade in concerns about the impact of Brexit, along with Covid-19, on business operations.

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The report said: “Covid-19 and Brexit Disruption principal risks have been removed at September 23 2023 as they no longer pose a material risk to the Group.

"Management of these two risks will be dealt with as part of our day-to-day operations.”

Mr Couch said the company remains committed to invested in supporting local employment.

While a recently-started £62m investment programme at its pork primary processing site in Preston on the outskirts of Hull has a focus on increasing automation, Mr Couch said that will come in addition to more jobs being created at the facility.

The factory currently employs around 1,500 people.

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He said: “The staff we have got on that site really mirror what we have got across the wider group, the long-term very experienced guys are willing to grow as well.

"A lot of them are local as well as coming from outside of town but local employment in that area is hugely important.

"We have a great apprentice scheme on that site as well.”

In its latest results, the company recorded an adjusted group operating profit of £85.5m, 25 per cent up on the £68.4m recorded at the same point in 2022.

Revenue was up 12 per cent to £1.253bn from £1.116bn.