Hall's owner Vion may have been winding the plant down while
negotiating with the Scottish government to find a buyer, according
to one unsuccessful bidder.
Scottish news: Hall's of Broxburn - Call for enquiry into legality of Vion activities
One of the unsuccessful bidding parties attempting to buy Hall's of Broxburn has called for an "enquiry or litigation" into plant owner Vion Food UK's activities. The bidder is calling into question Vion's conduct during the 90 day consultation period held to allow potential buyers to come forward and formulate bids for the business.
Steve Green, managing director of one of the unsuccessful bidders, raised a number of concerns over the honesty and legality of Vion's activities during the consultation. Green has questioned the honesty of the Dutch firm which employs 1700 workers in the Broxburn area.
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Green, the managing director of Graf Mortgage Corporation, said: "Graf believed it was Vion's intention all along to close the Hall's of Broxburn business to reduce the capacity within the UK with a view to selling their UK business."
Pointing to evidence of what he believes may have been underhand tactics, Green has alleged that the Dutch food firm may have been deliberately running the plant down to ensure its demise while simultaneously holding meetings with the Scottish government, unions and others ostensibly to facilitate potential bidders to come forward to buy the business and thus safeguard many of the jobs at the plant.
Green explains: "During the "Sales" process, Graf asked that Vion continue to support the IT systems for a period of 6 months post acquisition, Bruce Casely a Vion employee replied "Vion will be unable to support the IT systems for 6 months as there [sic] will not be a Vion computer in the UK in 6 months, 3 months is more likely". Given the accuracy of Mr Casely's prediction, questions must be asked of Vion to ascertain whether they openly flouted the 90 day consultation period in which all efforts should have been made to save jobs."
The businessman argues that he "never for one minute believed that Halls of Broxburn was for sale" and has publicly raised a number of questions which could lead to very serious allegations being levelled at the Dutch owners.
Specific questions raised by Green include:
- Were Vion moving equipment from the Hall's of Broxburn plant to their Malton plant during the 90 day consultation period?
- Did Vion keep the key clients of Hall's of Broxburn fully appraised throughout the 90 day consultation period, giving the new owners a realistic prospect of maintaining the relationship?
- Did Vion terminate profitable contracts with key clients during the 90 day consultation period, effectively starting a "wind down" of the factory?
- Did Vion grossly mismanage the supply of Scottish pigs to Hall's of Broxburn during the 90 day consultation period, meaning there would have been insufficient numbers of pigs to make the business viable?
In a sign of the acrimony between the stakeholders, Green commented further: "It would be ironic if we found out that on the days Peter Barr was on television criticising Graf for not being serious about buying the business, that vital equipment was being decommissioned and transported to Malton thus confirming that Vion were never serious about selling Hall's of Broxburn.
"We would ask that an enquiry or litigation be started to review Vion's actions throughout the 90 day consultation period, should Vion have broken the law, we would ask the maximum possible fine be levied upon them and the money recovered be invested in resurrecting the once profitable business of Hall's of Broxburn. The employees of Halls and people of Scotland deserve no less."
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