Meat chicken poultry production factory worker

The food company has proposed the closure of the site in reaction to ’challenging market conditions’

Pilgrim’s Food Masters has announced plans to close its Collett Way site in London, putting potentially 220 employees at risk of redundancy.

The JBS-owned food company said it was proposing the closure of the site in Southall, in reaction to “challenging market conditions”.

All 1,850 employees will be subject to a staff consultation, with the aim of redeploying most employees to the three remaining sites of Noon – a subsidiary of the company that specialises in the production of ethnic ready meals.

“External market conditions continue to be extremely challenging across the entire industry, with difficult headwinds and the inflationary environment we are working in,” read a statement from the supplier. “Therefore, after extensive analysis and consideration, we are proposing to close the Collett Way site to simplify our business structure and protect the business for the long term.”

The company stressed “this is not a decision we take lightly”, but the changes were essential given the sector’s challenges, added Pilgrim’s Food Masters CEO Nick Robinson.

In an internal email seen by The Grocer, Robinson explained to staff that challenges such as rising inflation and living costs had led to declining sales volumes, particularly across Pilgrim’s Food Masters’ chilled meals business.

This meant the supplier had to take action now to “transform our business into one which is sustainable, competitive, capable of growth and protected for the long term”, Robinson added.

And as a result, the business would be looking at its “Operational Excellence” model to reduce duplication and simplify structures across many areas of the business.

“As always, our people remain our number one priority and we are committed to supporting colleagues affected through this process,” said Robinson in a public statement.

The announcement follows confirmation by sister company Pilgrim’s UK earlier this month that it would close its Bury St Edmunds and Coalville sites – placing over 600 people at risk of redundancy. The move had been part of a plan to ensure the company’s “operational footprint across the UK is fully optimised”, it said, when announcing its proposals in September.

Pilgrim’s Food Masters was formed out of Kerry Foods’ UK and Irish consumer meats and meals business, which was acquired by the JBS-owned US meat giant Pilgrim’s Pride in June 2021 for more than £700m and renamed in September 2021.

The deal means Pilgrim’s now owns three major UK meat and poultry businesses in Moy Park, Pilgrim’s UK (formerly Tulip) and Pilgrim’s Foods Masters. The back office operations of the trio were merged to form Pilgrim’s Shared Services during the summer.