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Crippling losses force haggis factory closure

09 July 2012

The closure of Hall's of Broxburn in West Lothian has dealt the Scottish food industry a major blow, and led to the loss of more than 1,700 jobs. Now the unions have entered the fray.

The decision to close the factory that makes 'the world's best-selling haggis' was announced last week, and followed harrowing reports that losses had reached a staggering £79,000 a day. Peter Barr, Vion UK chairman, blamed the closure on 'significant over-capacity in the UK meat industry and market conditions that are extremely challenging', according to the Times.

But, according to a subsequent report in the Daily Record, unions want to know why the owners of Hall's of Broxburn are making a multimillion investment at a rival factory in Northern Ireland. That investment was to the tune of £11.5million on new equipment to increase output at a very similar factory in Cookstown, Country Tyrone.

The paper quoted Stewart Forrest, of Usdaw, saying: “People were surprised to hear there was an investment in another plant that we believe to be a mirror image of Broxburn.”

Meanwhile, Michael Connarty, MP for nearby Linlithgow, has waded into the argument, telling the Record that 'It seems Vion has a double strategy which favours investment in Northern Ireland'.

Vion has confirmed the Cookstown investment.

A spokesperson from industry leadership organisation Scotland Food & Drink said, "We are sorry to hear the recent news about VION and will work together to address the implications for the wider supply chain processes and product. We will work with VION and industry stakeholders including NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Pig Producers to find a solution."

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