Belfast Telegraph

Food firm makes 59 positions redundant a year after takeover

By David Elliott

Just over a year after being taken over by a US multinational, a Co Down food company has announced it's making 59 positions redundant.

Crossgar Foodservice, which supplies food to the likes of the prison service and defence forces, said it's seeking 40 voluntary redundancies in warehousing, sales support and administration after a "significant investment in technology and an approach to streamlining operations in Northern Ireland".

The company also plans to close a meat plant in Downpatrick where 19 compulsory redundancies will be made.

A statement said: "The decision to consider closing the meat production facility is based on the scale of the operation.

"To meet customer needs, Crossgar Foodservice will continue to supply meat products in Northern Ireland through strategic agreements with local suppliers."

The major reorganisation will, however, also see it add seven new full-time posts, the statement added, which will be involved in sales and customer service. The company is currently thought to employ around 240 people.

Its owners also plan to sell the poultry processing arm of the business – Crossgar Poultry – to Lissara Farm for an undisclosed sum.

Lissara Farm is owned by Paul Bell, whose family founded Crossgar Foodservice before selling it to Pallas Foods, owned by US food giant Sysco, in June 2012.

Pallas employs around 550 people in Limerick while Sysco has a turnover of $37bn.

Gerald Bell, the past chairman of Crossgar Foodservice, founded the company in 1959 with his wife Mary.

Crossgar's products include poultry, meat, chilled, frozen, grocery and non-food items, sold around Ireland and Great Britain.

The company said the job losses couldn't be avoided.

Their statement added: "While some redundancies are regrettably unavoidable, measures align with Northern Ireland business of Crossgar Foodservice with its parent company's core area of expertise, foodservice distribution.

"The development enhances distribution and product choice and provides improved value and a strong, more compelling offering to customers.

"The business's commitment to Northern Ireland continues to be strong with a guarantee to continue to source local products."

Belfast Telegraph