January 3, 2018 will always be a date etched in our memories.
It tested everyone at Thomas Foods International and I’m proud to say we rose to the challenge.
As a team we’ve achieved some incredible things over 2018. We have overcome many challenges and always focussed on creating the best possible outcomes for our staff.
We said from Day One that the road ahead would be a difficult one. We acknowledge that there hasn’t been an easy outcome for everyone and that some people have been impacted harder than others.
Despite this, the efforts of our staff to overcome obstacles and minimise disruption to our global operations has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Over the course of the year we created hundreds of jobs at our plants in Lobethal and Tamworth by investing millions of dollars to maintain the integrity of our various brands while expanding capacity.
We’ve also continued to grow our international operations.
This has involved opening an office in Japan, building on our investment and presence in China, expanding our operations in the United States and, more recently, entering into an equity partnership with Luiten Food in the Netherlands to become our central sales and distribution centre for Europe and the United Kingdom.
I couldn’t be prouder or more thankful.
These events can destroy companies but Thomas Foods International is emerging stronger.
Our engineering and design teams have been working diligently behind the scenes and have made significant progress as we determine future opportunities.
In fact, I’m pleased to report that we’re almost there.
While insurance claims of this size can take years to settle, our team has expedited this process and come to an arrangement with our insurer.
We have identified a greenfield site in Murray Bridge that may be appropriate for a rebuild and spent the last three months working feverishly to prepare an extremely detailed feasibility plan. This process covers everything from cost, business case and technology through to workforce availability.
We have also engaged internationally-renowned food processing infrastructure experts who are leading our design of a world-class processing facility.
Over the next few months we expect to finalise these documents in readiness to tender, however some questions will need to be answered before we can proceed.
These include certainty around the critical regional infrastructure required to support a development of this magnitude and the availability of a skilled workforce in the start-up phase and over the long term. All of these we believe we can overcome with the support of the community, regulatory authorities and various government agencies, both federal and state-based.
As such, further planning and discussion with key stakeholders will be required before we can make further announcements on our plans to replace the Murray Bridge plant.
As we head into 2019, we look forward to securing the clarity required to enable us to forge ahead.
In the meantime, we thank the local community for your patience and understanding and will provide further updates when we can.
- Darren Thomas, CEO Thomas Foods International