By Kathryn Moore
Feed company sells production units: A Yorkshire-based poultry business has completed a major deal which will more than double its size.
Ebco (Holdings), based in Bilbrough, North Yorkshire, has acquired the business and assets of five poultry farms from Sullivans Poultry Group, a subsidiary of Peterborough-based national pig and poultry animal feed company ABN.
The five poultry farms in Cambridge, Workshop and Riccall, near York, have been acquired in a multi-million pound deal.
Ebco, which was founded in 2002, rears chickens for meat rather than for eggs. The chickens are then sold, through an intermediary, to supermarkets throughout the UK.
Director Edward Barker said: "This is our biggest acquisition to date and a major deal for Ebco. We took this step because there is a serious future in the UK poultry industry for good quality medium-to-large independent enterprises.
"This deal enables us to move from being a medium sized independent poultry producer into one of the largest independent nationals able to provide a high-quality, high-volume weekly supply. It means we can go forward with real excitement about our future."
Livestock solutions director at ABN's Cranswick office, Phil Woodall, says: "This is a good deal for both parties. Sullivans can now focus on procuring and marketing chicken to our processing customers and Ebco (Holdings) Ltd will be able to use its considerable farm-management skills and economies of scale to optimise returns from these poultry units.
"I am delighted that ABN will continue to provide feed and nutritional advice to these farms and that Sullivans will continue to buy broilers from Ebco."
Most UK poultry meat is produced by large integrated companies which own and control all links in the production chain, from breeder farms, through to processing and delivery of finished chicken or turkey packs to the retailer.
The poultry meat sector does not receive any UK or European Union subsidies.
JWPCreers partner Stephen Headley, who advised Ebco on the commercial and taxation aspects of the acquisition, said: "It is always good to see home-grown Yorkshire businesses developing nationally and this deal represents an important move in this direction for Ebco."
UK farmers produced 1.6 million tonnes of poultry meat in 2004, second only to France in the European Union and exports were worth £247m in 2004, according to the British Poultry Council.
According to the Department of Food and Rural Affairs, there are about 10,000 farms in the UK breeding poultry for commercial purposes.