Henderson to axe up to 115 jobs after Covid-19 decimates Irish foodservice sector

Tommy Bowe's father Paul (centre), pictured with Ron Whitten and Damien Barrett of the Henderson Group, when the acquisition was first announced in July 2019.
Ryan McAleer

THE foodservice wing of supermarket giant Henderson is to centralise the operations of two recently acquired companies, putting up to 115 jobs at risk.

The Co Antrim group, which operates the Spar and Vivo franchise in the north, said the ongoing coronavirus crisis has severely curtailed its foodservice business.

Monaghan based BD Foods (Barbarrie Duckling Limited) was acquired by Henderson Foodservice in July 2018. The Glaslough company had been owned by the parents of former Irish rugby international Tommy Bowe.

Foodco, which operates a fleet of multi-temperature vehicles across the whole of Ireland, has bases in Lisburn and Ashbourne, Co Meath. It was acquired in February 2019.

All three locations are earmarked for closure at the end of July, with all services centralised in Henderson’s main base in Mallusk.

BD Foods currently employs 48 people in Glaslough, while Foodco, employs 22 people in Lisburn and 28 people in Ashbourne.

It’s understood that the rest of the jobs under threat are elsewhere within the Henderson food operation.

Henderson Foodservice’s managing director, Cathal Geoghegan, said the Covid-19 pandemic had brought “an unprecedented degree of trauma” to society and the all-island economy in a very short time span.

“As a company operating within the all-island foodservice sector, the ongoing crisis has particularly impacted us, and has seen our business activities severely curtailed due to the restrictions which have been placed upon the operational ability of many of our customers.”

Despite the announcement of staged reopening plans on both sides of the border, Mr Geoghegan said it will take the business a long time to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels.

The company has reacted by ‘streamlining and centralising operations’.

“Coupled with this proposed change to our physical infrastructure, we are also considering the integration of the associated organisational structures, which could enable us to introduce a single consolidated leadership team overseeing any new merged business,” he said.

“Due to these proposals, we regret that we will to need to consider potential reductions in the numbers employed within our business.

“Whilst the ultimate number and identity of roles that may be reduced will be determined through the upcoming consultative processes, we estimate that under these proposals the total jobs at risk might be around 115, spread across the various companies within our foodservice business.”

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