British Indian CEO of Chicken Firm Steps Down
Ranjit Singh Boparan will take the position of president at Boparan Holdings Limited, the parent company of 2 Sisters Food Group.
United Kingdom’s ‘Chicken King’ Ranjit Singh Boparan, the founder of 2 Sisters Food Group, has stepped down as the chief executive of the controversy-torn company. The company was one of the biggest chicken suppliers in the country.
The change in leadership comes following an investigative report by the Guardian and ITV last year about faulty hygiene standards in the company. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in a report published on March 2, based on CCTV footage collected between 2 July and 18 August last year, that the company flouted hygiene regulations.
“This provided evidence of sporadic poor hygiene and bad practice, such as inadequate use of protective clothing, placing of knives on unhygienic surfaces or inadequate cleaning procedures but did not represent widespread systematic failures,” the report said, according to the Guardian.
“On some sites the tests for salmonella were completed using poultry cuts, instead of neck skins which was in breach of legislative requirements.
“The report highlights several process weaknesses and regulatory failures found at 2SFG plants.”
Boparan quit the post after 25 years, and will take the position of the president of 2 Sisters’ holding company, Boparan Holdings Limited (BHL). The company will look for a new head of firm, the company said in a statement. Chief operating officer at 2 Sisters, Martyn Fletcher, will be the interim chief executive.
“I am fully committed to building a better, more transparent business, modernizing our company and simplifying our operations. I want to take a broader industry leadership role and concentrate more on the issues and challenges that affect not only our business, but also the food sector in general such as Brexit, social responsibility and sustainability,” Boparan said.
Charles Allen, the chairman of BHL, said: “Ranjit has spent 25 years of his life building a world class food business. He has been a catalyst for change within the food industry, by challenging the norm and providing our customers and consumers with great service, great quality food, and great prices. In his new role, he will be playing to his strengths, looking at new opportunities and reducing debt that will help take the business to new levels of success.”
The investigative report by the Guardian and ITV showed workers changing best-by dates and picking up chickens that had fallen on the floor to put back on the assembly line. The company’s products were pulled from supermarkets, and production was suspended at its West Bromwich plant for five weeks.
The company is also planning to sell its Irish fish supply company Donegal Catch for £50 million. In January, Boparan sold his Goodfella’s Pizza for £200 million to Bird’s Eye frozen food owner Nomad Foods. The food company 2 Sisters also said that it would be closing three of its factories — Smethwick and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, and at Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire — that would mean job loss for around 900 people.
The firm also has £824 million in debts after acquiring multiple competitors like Northern Foods in 2011, turkey business Bernard Matthews and restaurant chains FishWorks, Giraffe and Harry Ramsden’s.
After the investigative report was published, Boparan appeared before the Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee. He apologized for the practice at the company, but later invited trouble by presenting gift baskets to members of the committee during Christmas.