Turkey firm Bernard Matthews up for sale

Norfolk black turkeys Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rutland Partners bought Bernard Matthews in 2013

Europe's biggest turkey producer, Bernard Matthews, has been put up for sale.

The firm, which employs more than 2,000 people across Norfolk and Suffolk, emailed staff saying the company's owner had appointed advisers to check out prospective buyers.

It said the poultry firm had experienced "disappointing results" over the past year.

The company was bought by Rutland Partners in 2013.

In the email to staff, Rutland Partners' executive chairman Alan Jamieson said consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) had been appointed to look at possible buyers.

He wrote: "This does not affect the internal operation of the business. Neither does it reduce in any way Rutland's support for the BM management team as it continues to strengthen and improve the business following the disappointing results achieved over the last year or so."

The company, which has its head office at Great Witchingham, Norfolk, had a difficult time with an outbreak of bird flu at its factory at Holton in Suffolk in 2007.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The firm faced problems with the the soaring cost of turkey feed in 2011

It also faced problems with the the soaring cost of turkey feed in 2011.

Rutland Partners said it would not comment "at this time".

Steve Harley, regional officer for Unite, which represents about 400 Bernard Matthews employees, said: "I'm disappointed that the company has not seen fit to inform the union directly."

The firm Bernard Matthews was named after its founder, who died aged 80 in 2010.

The multi-millionaire, famous for his "bootiful" catchphrase, began his rise to prominence in 1950 when he bought 20 turkey eggs and an incubator at a market in Acle.

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