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Leading British turkey producer warns of massive Brexit downsize

Paul Kelly, of KellyBronze turkeys, said he would instead be concentrating on the US and German markets.

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Leading turkey producer warns of massive Brexit downsize

Leading British turkey producer, Paul Kelly, has warned that a hard Brexit would force him to reduce his UK business to 30 per cent of its current size, leaving him to concentrate instead on growing his existing ventures in the US and Germany.

 

Currently reporting UK sales of £15.3 million for his branded KellyBronze turkeys, alongside US sales worth £230,000, Mr Kelly also has a 30 per cent shareholding in Freiland Puten Fahrenzhausen, Germany, an organic poultry business with annual sales of £25m.

 

UK farm closures

 

Now, however, with a no-deal Brexit still on the table, he wass committed to setting up new farming units in the Netherlands and Germany, a change of direction which will result in the closure of some of his UK farms.


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He was also anxious about how the Government’s latest post-Brexit labour plans will affect the 95 mainly Polish workers who arrive in November each year to help him prepare for Christmas.

 

"Government claims that our industry’s labour requirements can be filled by UK nationals, sourced partly through youth employment schemes, is absolute nonsense," said Mr Kelly.

 

"Talk to anyone who is on the ground in this industry and they think it is a joke.

 

"We have successfully expanded our business over the last 15 years, based largely on the same group of Polish workers who, as a result, understand what we need and are extremely skilled at their job.

 

"They arrive on November 20 each year, ready to hit the ground running and, as a result, we’re able to hit our Christmas marketplace at exactly the right time. Training new workers each year would add at least a month to the process, plus the extra costs this would impose.

 

Staffing

 

"We have a similar intake of staff during our breeding and hatchery season, running from April to September, for which we require equally skilled workers.”

 

Alongside his labour concerns, Mr Kelly is also worried about potential post-Brexit difficulties related to moving hatching eggs and day-old chicks through new border controls, adding that he wass already contemplating downsizing the business to ’roughly 30 per cent of what it is today’.

 

"We’ll focus on the German and US businesses instead," he said. "A big part of our work is already in supplying genetics to our German partner. As a result, we’ve already made the decision to close some of our farms in the UK and move the production involved to Germany and/or the Netherlands.

 

"We simply cannot afford to risk new border controls disrupting our operations, as eggs and chicks couldn’t cope with a five-hour delay at a border control while the paperwork gets sorted."

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