Owner turns down Scottish Government’s sale and lease plan for Hall’s factory

Hall's of Broxburn: 'Glimmer of light'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Hall's of Broxburn: 'Glimmer of light'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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The company which owns Hall’s of Broxburn has rejected a Scottish Government rescue plan designed to save hundreds of jobs at the 
closure-threatened plant.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the Government was willing to buy the Broxburn factory, which employs 1700 people, and lease it back to Dutch-owned parent company Vion to enable major capital investment to improve the site.

But Vion bosses turned down the offer, which also had the backing of West Lothian Council and Scottish Enterprise. Now the task force set up to try to save the plant is to concentrate on attempting to improve the profitability of the operation, giving advice to employees and working with two potential bidders to secure investment.

Vion announced in July that it was launching a 90-day consultation period on shutting down the plant, which it said was losing £79.000 per day.

Today Livingston Labour MP Graeme Morrice said the firm’s response to the Government offer was disappointing.

He said: “The Scottish Government offer of financial assistance is clearly welcome and shows to what extent the Government, the council, government agencies, local politicians and trade unions are willing to work together in an effort to provide a long-term future for some kind of operation at the current site.

“It’s just a pity the senior management are not prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of that offer. At the end of the day, 1700 jobs are at stake and the loss of these will have a devastating impact on the local community.”

Mr Swinney broke the news of the Government offer and the company’s rejection after yesterday’s task force meeting.

He said the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, working closely with the company, had identified improvements to the performance of the plant which would save about £4 million and along with other measures could significantly boost the financial performance of Hall’s.

He said: “I have also formulated a substantial proposal that would see the Government, working with West Lothian Council and Scottish Enterprise, purchasing and leasing back the Hall’s site on a commercial basis to enable significant capital investment to be made. Vion has advised the task force today that the proposal is not sufficient to be acceptable to the company.”

Last month the Evening News revealed concerns that Vion was just “going through the motions” in trying to secure a future for the plant, which dates back to 1932 and makes a wide variety of products including sausages, haggis and black puddings.

A spokesman for Vion said it did not wish to comment on the decision.