Based in Derby and operating from six production sites in Birmingham; Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire; Exeter; Fife; Liverpool; and London; Russell Hume supplied meat to a number of pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country, including JD Wetherspoon (JDW), Greene King and Marston’s.
Russell Hume, which employed a total of 302 people, ceased production across its sites and its products were recalled after an investigation was launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) into allegations of non-compliance with food hygiene regulations.
The meat supplier’s directors issued a joint statement that read: “Unfortunately, the FSA’s action created impossible trading conditions for us and, after careful reflection, we have decided the best thing for the company and its creditors is to put Russell Hume into administration.
“This decision has been heartbreaking. We will continue to work with the FSA with regards to the issues it raised but we still feel its action has been out of all proportion to the concerns it says it has identified.
“Had it worked more closely with us in the crucial early stages of the situation, more than 300 jobs may not have been lost."
Lack of clarity
The statement added: “The fact that its investigation have become industry-wide and a number of other firms have also had issues, strongly suggests there is a lack of clarity in the industry and in current FSA guidelines.
“Prior to this, we had a long, unblemished record for supplying quality meat products. We would like to thank our customers for their support but, above all, our loyal and hard-working staff.
“They were all an integral part of our success, and we are very sorry the Russell Hume story should have ended in such a sudden and devastating way. Our thoughts are with them and their families.”
KPMG Restructuring, which was appointed as an administrator to Russell Hume partner and joint administrator Chris Pole said: “The recent product recall and halt in operations has caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties, which, in turn, has led the directors to take the decision to place the company into administration.
“Regrettably, with little prospect of production restarting on site, a total of 266 people have been made redundant.
“Our priority over the coming days will be to work with all affected employees to provide the assistance they need in claiming monies owed from the redundancy payments office."
Pole added: “We will also be seeking buyers for the business and its assets. Any interested parties are advised to contact us as soon as possible.”
The FSA responded to the director’s statement, explaining that it took "proportionate action based on serious and widespread problems" found at the supplier's premises involving stopping production at its sites and a voluntary withdrawal of affected products, which was initiated by the business.
It said: “We do not take these decisions lightly and we recognise this will be a worrying time for employees and their families.
“It is for food businesses to ensure the food they produce is safe and our role is to provide assurances that a business is meeting its responsibilities.
“Since then we have been working with the company to get assurances that their food safety management system met the legal requirements. As a result, the Liverpool site was given permission to resume production on 5 February. Our investigation into Russell Hume remains ongoing.”
The Morning Advertiser attempted to approach Russell Hume but the company was uncontactable.