Gangmaster gangbustin' raids lead to business failure to Bomfords ... supplier to UK supermarkets of salads .. more to follow ? Prices to shoot up ?
Midlands based vegetable packing group and leading supplier of fresh vegetables to major supermarkets , The Bomfords Group, ( which includes MBN Bomford Limited, Bomfords Limited, W Bailey Limited and GF Produce Limited) was forced to call in administrators (Andrew Peters, Dominic Wong, David Langton and Nick Edwards of Deloitte, Birmingham) on Friday 22nd June after hitting "cash-flow problems".
The Administration covers 5 different businesses and locations :-
Atherstone, Stratford Upon Avon - head office and pack house (390 employees)
Luddington, Stratford Upon Avon - UK farming operations and farmland (520 employees)
Salford Priors, Worcester - pack house (570 employees)
Purfleet, Essex - pack house specialising in imported produce (230 employees)
Gravesend, Kent - grower and pack house specialising in spring onions and radishes (390 employees)
Bomfords Prepared Limited, a subsidiary with 120 employees, supplies prepared food services and products from Pershore in Worcestershire, is not in administration and continues to trade normally. The group's 75% shareholding in this business is available for sale.
The group has a claimed turnover of £150 million, with a total of 2,100 workers based in Warwickshire, Worcester, Essex and Kent.Dominic Wong, Partner in Deloitte’s Reorganisation Services practice, is quoted saying : "The Group has a strong market position, with a UK market share of approximately 25 - 55% across its various principal product categories. It is profitable and has an enviable customer base".
Andrew Peters, one of four administrators said the failure of the group had been attributed to cost over-runs in the recent construction of a new pack house and administration building in Warwickshire, together with the start-up investment for a subsidiary - Bomfords Prepared - which had "adversely impacted upon cash flows." The Group has also made two recent acquisitions "where integration benefits have been slower to arise than anticipated".
The administrators say they are continuing to trade and expect they will continue to trade as normal whilst the administrators seek either the rescue or sale of the group."
The administrators do not mention that the failure might not be unconnected with the interview of Paul Whitehouse ex Sussex Chief Constable and Head of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority who was was interviewed about raids vegetable packers on BBC "Farming Today" Friday March 9th 2007 - As Lord Patel said when reporting... " one suspects we are going to be hearing a lot about the GLA and Mr Whitehouse this summer." Ex Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse in gang busting mode at the GLA
As a result of these raids which disclosed widespread problems in the Midlands, the GLA would inform other agencies that Bomfords (amongst others raided by the GLA in dawn raids) as employers of the labour , about contraventions of basic employment law that could see Bomfords become the first fresh produce operator prosecuted since the GLA came into being.
The agencies they would need to notify would include HM Revenue & Customs, and the Department of Trade and Industry regarding claims about the payment of ther minimum wage.The GLA calculate the minimum rate of £6.41 (Euros 9.48) per hour per worker must be charged to the labour user or the gangmaster cannot meet their legal obligations and are therefore likely to be unlicensed. The UK minimum wage is currently £5.35 (Euros 7.91) for 22-year-olds and above and NI contributions must be paid by employers on employee earnings above £97 (€143.46) per week.
The GLA will also have contacted Health and Safety officials over the worker welfare allegations, and also contact local authorities to deal with affected workers who need accomodation.
No doubt the administrators and new owners will take note of the requirements for employing casual agricultural labour through gangmasters .... this may result in higher prices for your radishes and lettuces in Waitrose ,Sainsbury's,Morrison's, Asda , Tesco and Somerfield etc., this week.
Exploiters of immigrant labour who provide shit jobs, with shit "accomodation", shit working conditions however distant from the gangmasters will take note. Major retailers cannot continue to sit in their boardrooms and allow exploitation of workers supplying their stores.
Gypsy Petulengro tells Lord Patel that the spokespersons of the major supermarket groups when (or if asked by the major media outlets) about the impact on salad crop prices will deny all knowledge of exploitation , breach of HSE, minimum wages etc., etc., ..they are however happy to crow about their massive sales ...eg.
28/06/2005 - Heatwave and Wimbledon create record fruit and salad demand
Brits have created a new record for fruit and salad as they shape up for the summer holidays Tesco can reveal.....
Click on to enlarge
Pic is salad eating Wimbledon tennis superstar Maria Sharapova another Eastern European worker taking jobs off good British tennis players.