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AHDB completes sale of MLCSL to Hallmark Veterinary Services

3rd Dec 2018 / By Alistair Driver

AHDB has completed the sale of its carcase classification arm to Hallmark Veterinary Compliance Services for £1.3 million.

CarcasesThe deal was approved by Farming Minister George Eustice and completed on Friday, November 30. AHDB said the money from the sale of Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited (MLCSL) would be reinvested in the beef and lamb and pork sectors.

The sale, through Hallmark's parent company Vorenta Ltd, would help safeguard the future of classification services across Great Britain.

The move was first announced in March, prompting a number of concerns within the industry, including within the NPA Producer Group. These included fears the sale could lead to a hike in charges and that industry levy payers would lose control of the service as it switched to the private sector.

AHDB said there had been significant consultation with industry, with an oversight committee to be established to ensure independence and value for money in the services at abattoirs across the country. NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson is part of that group. 

In total, 103 staff will be affected by the move but no job losses are expected. There will be no disruption in services for customers with 'business as usual' being maintained as part of the deal.

A year-long process was undertaken to identify suitable companies that met robust criteria set down by the AHDB Board, including value for money, track record of delivering independent services and commitment to the long term future of the business, AHDB said.

By moving the business into the private sector with a company that has a strong track record of delivering independent services to the meat industry, it will open up opportunities for greater efficiencies and synergies that would not be possible under the current public ownership model and secure the future of the business, it added

Jane King, AHDB chief executive, said: “We believe this move will safeguard the long-term future of independent, manual, carcase classification services in Great Britain.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this sale from a lot of people and we are pleased we have finally crossed the finishing line.

“Credit should go to all involved, particularly those who work for MLCSL, and we wish HallMark all the best as they take MLCSL into a new chapter.”

David Peace, Chairman of Hallmark, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the acquisition of MLCSL, which we believe fits very well with our current operations, to the mutual benefit of both businesses’ future development.

“MLCSL’s key strengths are its very highly experienced and loyal staff and managers, and we’re very excited about this opportunity to work together, building on MLCSL’s well-acknowledged skills, its powerful brand and expanding its services and reach.”

NPA reaction

NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: "The NPA Producer Group raised a number of concerns when this sale was first proposed. Since then an oversight group has been established, which I am pleased to be part of. 

"The primary objective of this group will be to ensure a smooth transition to the private sector which does not negatively impact on the cost to producers and on the quality or accessibility of data, and that the promised benefits of the sale are delivered."