2 Sisters Poultry Chicken

More than 600 staff could lose their job at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant at Smethwick in the West Midlands, after the poultry giant announced plans to cease production.

The processor said the plant, which opened in 1996 and employs 630 staff, was “ageing and has significant challenges to meet the standards required by ourselves and our customers”. The factory is a chicken cutting processor that supplies retailers, other manufacturers and other 2 Sisters sites with chicken portions.

It has started a 45-day consultation into the closure of the site, but said it would offer affected staff up to 200 roles at other West Midlands locations by converting from agency to permanent roles.

“We do not take this decision lightly and fully understand the impact if this proposal goes ahead,” said 2 Sisters in a statement. It will also seek to redeploy staff within the wider group.

Trade union Unite described the announcement as “devastating news”, while retaining jobs was a priority, said Unite national food officer Julia Long.

“We had a positive and constructive meeting with the company’s management on Monday and have made a commitment to prepare a set of proposals to save as many jobs as possible,” she added. “We will be presenting our proposals to the management when we meet them again at Smethwick on Friday 21 April.”

In its latest quarterly results, 2 Sisters announced a loss of £2.5m for the three months to 28 January, down from a profit of £1.7m a year ago, as rising input prices slashed margins.

It comes a week after 2 Sisters owner Ranjit Singh’s investment vehicle Boparan Private Office announced that Bernard Matthews would cease year-round chicken production at its Norfolk base and restructure its head office, with the loss of 114 jobs.