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Quorn Foods boss says firm will 'ride out any Brexit disruption'

The boss of Quorn Foods has backed the firm to ride out any Brexit disruption to its European business as he unveiled plans to create 300 jobs and invest £150 million in the UK.

Published: July 24, 2017
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Chief executive Kevin Brennan said he is confident a growing appetite for the meat substitute in the US, Australia and Asia will keep the business on track if confronted by tough trading conditions across the 27-nation bloc.

Mr Brennan said the food producer could also cope with the introduction of an EU trade tariff following Brexit, as long as it is in line with the single-digit charges the company faces when trading with America and Australia.

The comments came as he pledged to create hundreds of jobs in the North of England over the next five years through an investment drive at its manufacturing operation in Billingham, Teesside.

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Brennan said the company had not sought any Brexit assurances from the Government before committing to the investment, but is keeping a close eye on how the divorce talks unfold.

He said: "We are running a company where we believe we can quadruple the business to one billion US dollars. Europe plays a part in that but it isn't essential to achieving that.

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"The UK business is still a business with incredibly strong growth. The US is a business with enormous scale potential to us, alongside Australia and Asia.

"We are still taking a positive view on commercial investment in Europe. We continue to invest significantly into Germany, Italy and the Nordics.

"But equally we know that our category is growing everywhere in the world that if Europe gets less attractive, we can divert our growth to other places.

"Hard Brexit tariffs would not be great for us, but it wouldn't be the end of the world."

Quorn, which sells meat-free alternatives to sausages, mince and burgers, saw UK sales grow 15 per cent in the first half of the year.
Global growth rose 19 per cent over the period, while European sales grew by 29 per cent, US sales were up 40 per cent and Asia and Australia sales climbed 35 per cent respectively.

Mr Brennan said Quorn has bucked challenging market conditions and is achieving double-digit growth in most British retailers, adding "most food companies would be happy if they had any growth at all in the UK".

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While the firm has managed to shield customers from Brexit-induced price hikes following sterling's collapse, he could not guarantee costs will not rise in future.

He said the company is "broadly neutral" to the Brexit-hit pound, with rising import prices being countered by improving export sales.

Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group bought Quorn from Bisto maker Premier Foods for £205 million in 2011, before selling four years later to Philippine food giant Monde Nissin.

The company employs 650 staff and is based in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.

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