Debbie & Andrew's sausage brand future in doubt
The future of one of the sausage category’s most successful premium sausage brands has been thrown into doubt after the resignation of its founders and the impending closure of the factory producing them.
Debbie & Andrew’s was founded by Debbie and Andrew Keeble but was bought by Vion as part of its acquisition of JJ Tranfield in 2007.
The Keebles remained directors of the company after the Vion deal, and two years ago, told the IGD 2010 Convention that “the consumer is queen, knowledge is king and the future is a very exciting place to be.” But their resignations in the spring have prompted suggestions of a falling out with Vion. “The love affair with Vion is definitely over,” said one industry source.
The Keebles’ departure will also raise questions about how well supported the brand will now be, as both played an active role in promoting their sausages. “Nobody seems to know what’s happening,” said the source, adding the Keebles had not had “much control over the last year or so.”
Doubts about the brand’s future intensified following Vion’s recent decision to close down its Hall’s of Broxburn site in Scotland next year, where Debbie & Andrew’s sausages are made. “Where they’re going to be made, whether Vion will still make them or whether they will sell them, nobody knows,” the source said. They are available, selectively, in all the major multiples.
Vion said: “We are in on-going dialogue with Debbie and Andrew Keeble on a number of matters and therefore, it would be inappropriate to offer any comment at this stage.”
Debbie and Andrew Keeble did not comment.
Pre-tax profits at Debbie & Andrew’s Limited slumped 80.4%, to just £9,227 in the year to 31 December 2011. Sales fell by 5.1%, to £5.4m.