Brain's Faggots maker calls in receiver

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The Independent Online

The maker of Mr Brain's Faggots and owner of Sara Lee UK, Hibernia Food, has called in receivers, it emerged yesterday.

Hibernia, which is based in Dublin and employs 2,000 people on six UK sites, replaced its executive chairman and its finance director last week and was threatened with being delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange after it had failed to file a form relating to its financial year ending last March. The company, which was founded in 1991 to buy beef in Ireland for export, began a series of acquisitions of frozen foods and chilled deserts six years later.

Apart from Sara Lee and Mr Brain, its products include Entenmann chilled desserts and own-label gateaux for Tesco supermarkets.

Earlier this month Hibernia said it would invest more than £3m in a new facility to manufacture Mr Brain's Faggots in Hartlepool, where it already has two factories. Other group sites are at Stockton, Birmingham, Bristol and Bridlington.

Allan Graham of KPMG, the group's joint receiver, said: "We are currently trading the business while we seek buyers for the assets. However, to continue to do so successfully, we must retain the support of customers, suppliers, creditors and employees throughout this process, and we hope to seek assurances from them on this front over the coming days."

He added that he hoped to avoid redundancies.

Hibernia made an operating loss of €2.9m (£2m) in its fourth quarter to March before €4.7m restructuring charges, mainly relating to the closure of a site in Bristol.

Yesterday, Mr Graham and Myles Halley from KPMG Corporate Recovery reported taking a number of telephone calls from potential buyers of some or all of the six subsidiaries.

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