Meat business deal could save 9,000 jobs

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AROUND 9,000 jobs across Britain could be saved as Leeds-based private equity firm Endless closes in on deals to buy poultry and red meat businesses from their Dutch owner.

Vion is exiting the UK to concentrate on its core activities in Netherlands and Germany and has put its £1.8bn business up for sale.

Endless has already struck a deal to buy the loss-making pork business, saving 4,000 jobs, including 1,500 people in Yorkshire, and is in advanced talks with Vion about buying its poultry business, headquartered in Thorne, near Doncaster. The division employs 6,000 people and has annual sales of £600m. It is believed to be profitable.

Endless is said to be facing competition from Ranjit Boparan, the Birmingham-based entrepreneur whose 2 Sisters Food Group won the race to buy Leeds-based Northern Foods last year.

Endless is also in talks with Vion about acquiring its red meat business, which has cattle and lamb interests in Wales, Scotland and the South West. It employs 3,000 people and has annual sales of £500m.

Endless declined to comment.