Silver Fern Farms to close Christchurch plant
Silver Fern Farms, the country's largest venison processor, is planning on closing its Christchurch venison plant.
The Islington site's lease is due to expire and the company wants to build a new integrated plant at its Pareora plant, south of Timaru.
Silver Fern says it has options for the 54 affected workers to transfer to other local sites, as well as Pareora or Hokitika.
Continuing at the current site on Waterloo Rd is no longer an option, chief executive Dean Hamilton says, as the buildings are to be demolished to make way for new commercial developments at the Waterloo Business Park.
Islington is one of 19 plants around the country which Silver Fern operates.
"Given the circumstances, we plan to close the site and are consulting with the 54 Islington staff and their union to discuss the proposal and transfer options within the company," Mr Hamilton says.
"Our Islington team are skilled and dedicated people and we have options for them to transfer to other sites... and they will retain all their service benefits in the process."
Mr Hamilton acknowledges it will be a difficult time for employees in the coming months, with some "big decisions" ahead.
The company has invested $5 million into the Pareora site to house the new venison processing operation, which will service the upper and central South Island.
Mr Hamilton says it was the "obvious" site as it's central to many Silver Fern deer farmers.
"We own the land and therefore [it] provides long-term certainty," he says. "We can take advantage of existing assets and services already on site."
He says it an exciting opportunity and will help grow international demand for Silver Fern Farms' venison.