Plant on hold to 'stay nimble'

By Patrick OSullivan

7 comments
Andy Lowe
Andy Lowe

Jobs will be lost as Lowe Corporation mothballs its recently-purchased Napier plant but Hawke's Bay will benefit through the industry "staying nimble", the company says.

Meat processor Silver Fern Farms announced the sale of its Ahuriri hide processing plant to Lowe Corporation last month, part of a deal for Lowe Corporation to process the majority of Silver Fern's North Island hides.

Lowe Corporation managing director Andy Lowe said 76 employees at the Napier plant were being consulted about the mothballing, planned for after the end of the peak kill season.

Staff would be offered redundancy where roles were not available to them in Lowe Corporations' Hastings plant or Tomoana Pelt Processors in Whakatu, he said.

The mothballing was about the business "staying nimble".

"We are looking at opening up again at the peak season next year," he said.

"Our main competitor is China and unless we get efficient and right size in changing world markets, we will lose all our jobs in New Zealand."

Lowe Corporation bought Silver Fern Farms' Shannon Fellmongery last year, with the loss of 86 jobs for the town but 65 new jobs for Hawke's Bay.

"We want to grow the company and provide a greater economic benefit to New Zealand in general and Hawke's Bay in particular," Mr Lowe said.

Lowe Corporation yesterday announced a 50 per cent stake in sheep renderer Hawke's Bay Proteins, which exports high-quality meal to pet food manufacturers.

Hawke's Bay Proteins managing director Glenn Smith said the stake would see more material processed.

The Awatoto company employs 22 people and Lowe Corporation's involvement will save jobs threatened by dwindling sheep numbers nationally.

"It will result in greater efficiencies and maybe a couple more jobs as we get busier," he said.

"Together with Lowe Corporation we will be the largest ovine by-products producer in the country. That scale will allow further investment into developing new products in the ovine meal range.

Service and Food Workers Union organiser Thomas O'Neill said yesterday that 58 workers at the Napier plant would be made redundant. Mr O'Neill had been given the figure by Silver Fern Farms Napier plant manager, Kim Single.

The situation for workers was "very dire indeed", Mr O'Neill said.

"They're angry, and at the same time very worried with regards to the future. A lot of them will try to get work at the Hastings plant but there simply isn't enough work there. There are some positions there, of a seasonal nature, but that won't cut the mustard for us."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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