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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Buyer found for frozen pea firm
Frozen foods
Albert Fisher was a leader in frozen foods
The threat of a UK frozen pea shortage may have been lifted.

Belgian frozen food company, Pingouin, looks set to buy the Fisher Foods Factory in Norfolk, which produces a third of the nation's frozen peas.

Fisher Foods, based at Kings Lynn, closed its factory last week with the loss of 320 jobs.

The receivers, KPMG, announced on Friday night a buyer had agreed in principle to take on the plant, machinery and property.

Deal finalised

An announcement on the future of the plant is expected on Monday but details have already been given to the BBC.

Tony Worth, managing director of the Holbeach Marsh Growers Co-operative, which includes 80 pea growers, says he has been helping to negotiate the deal for some time.

He says the reason for the Belgian buyout is based on expansion plans.

"They already do a certain amount of business in the UK and are anxious to get into some supermarket groups in the UK," he told BBC Radio Norfolk.

"They see the pea as key to doing this because the quality of pea we can produce in England is rather better than that which is produced in Belgium."

There had been concern the closure of Albert Fisher's factory would lead to a frozen pea shortage and much of the crop being turned into animal feed.

Albert Fisher, which supplies frozen and chilled foods to major UK supermarkets, was forced into administration last month with debts of more than 100m after crisis talks with creditors failed.

Severe setbacks

The company enjoyed a spell of spectacular growth during the 1980s, reaching a valuation of 784m as investors snapped up Albert Fisher stock.

But it failed to recover convincingly from a series of severe setbacks during the early 1990s downturn.

Abortive disposal and takeover operations later in the decade further dented investor confidence in the firm.

Recent declines in the price of fish and frozen foods have added to the company's woes.

Albert Fisher's troubled frozen foods business, based in King's Lynn, Norfolk, is the largest supplier of frozen vegetables to the UK retail and food manufacturing industries.

The company employs a total of about 3,000 staff.


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See also:

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