A meat producer has been forced to axe a large part of its business after the loss of a major retail customer.
Slaughterer and meat processor Chitty Food Group is to close its Congerstone killing plant in Warwickshire, which it bought in 1999.
The decision follows Waitrose’s withdrawal of its fresh lamb account, although MD Andrew Chitty blamed continuing cost pressures and a predicted tightening of supply in home-bred meat.
More than a third of Chitty’s beef was killed at Congerstone, the principal abattoir for the company’s Aberdeen Angus Producer Group. It also handled all sow slaughtering.
Andrew Chitty said that the Group’s Guildford abattoir would absorb the beef kill while pig slaughtering would now be contracted out. There were no plans to close any other operations, he added. Chitty, which had invested heavily in retail packing and new product development at its Horndean HQ in Hampshire, and also runs a specialist boning plant at Basildon, Essex, supplies several of the major multiples, including Marks and Spencer.
A Waitrose statement said: “Our mutual business has been steadily winding down over the past 18 months as a result of more and more business being managed through dedicated processors and producer groups.” Chitty said it was still in consultation with staff.
n Meanwhile, unconnected to Waitrose, a lack of viable offers for Bronte Foods’ cooked poultry processing site in Haworth, Yorkshire, resulted in closure and 50 job losses.
Last week, however, administrators, announced the sale of its hen processing facility in Cullingworth to Irish operators Hannon’s Poultry Exporting Company.