Browns Food Group has announced a substantial multi-million-pound investment in AK Stoddart Limited, acquiring shares from existing shareholders Colin Wright and Ton Christiaanse.

This move creates Scotland’s largest privately-owned meat business.

Reinforcing investment in the Scottish meat sector by a Scottish-owned company, the combined company’s extensive domestic and global footprint will turn over £300m each year, with plans to reach £500m through a committed investment programme.

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The two remaining shareholders of Stoddart’s, Grant Moir, managing director, and Julie Fancourt, finance director, will continue to manage day-to-day operations, ensuring that the company’s mission and vision are upheld. Their dedication and expertise will continue to drive Stoddart’s forward, maintaining the high standards upon which the firm’s reputation and brand are built.

Speaking to The Scottish Farmer, Grant Moir said: “We are thrilled to welcome Browns as a shareholder. We have known Wayne Godfrey and the Browns team for many years. After meeting with the Browns family, we feel confident that this is the right decision for the business.

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“Being part of a larger organisation will provide greater stability and growth opportunities for the industry as a whole. This is also the right thing for the farming sector too.

“Our customers are multigenerational and are here to stay, which is the same for Julie, myself, and the Browns business.

“The coming together of the businesses makes us both a much bigger entity, which will create benefits. We will still be spending a combined £100m on procuring Scottish animals each year, but we will now be able to take advantage of new potential customers through collaboration between the businesses.”

He continued: "We export around the globe, as far away as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan, and throughout Europe. We open all that up to the Browns business. And vice versa, we can piggyback on some of Browns established supply chains.

"However, we will remain as two standalone entities and run separately on a day-to-day basis. The Brown business do not want to get involved in the running of the beef business, but we will be able to dip into each otherҳ business for specific projects.

"Value-added product development, retailer contracts, and capital investments are all options for collaboration in the future.

"We would also like to reiterate that we are not looking to move away from our business model catering to the premium market. We are very much focused and have built our brand on the top end of the market. We do not try to compete in the middle tier. The bulk of our business will continue to serve top-end restaurants, wholesalers, and butcher shops.

"For farmers, we are changing nothing about how we procure our animals. Our three staff who procure the cattle will continue with our long-established relationships across the industry. We will continue to sit down across the kitchen table to explain our plans and take a partnership approach. This is how we like to work, and I can't see this changing. The deal makes the two companies the largest independent Scottish-owned meat company in the country."

The Ayr-based abattoir currently processes 35,000 cattle per year with a capacity of up to 1000 cattle per week. Stoddart's has been increasingly focused on procuring Aberdeen Angus cattle in recent years, in its pursuit of top-end customers. While the majority of the kill is steers and heifers, the company also processes a proportion of cows, which are exported to the continent.

The business employs between 220 and 240 people, and there are no plans to cut staffing levels following the investment from Browns.