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The only way is up: Local firm working through crisis

STAFF and management at Western Brand Poultry based in Lisnaskea have been “delighted” with their response to the Covid crisis, with hopes for a “bright future” as the new normal takes effect.
Speaking to the Herald, General Manager Michael Liddle explained, “Our business changed almost overnight from 55-60% retail to 90-95% as the foodservice market vanished with the tourist industry, and the school meals sector which accounts for 20% of our production did likewise.
We expect to see a gradual return in the school meals business in June, and as work returns, particularly in the construction sector, our foodservice business for the hot food counters will start again. The outlook for us is quite positive.” Furthermore, it would appear that maintaining a safe working environment for staff at the factory has been top priority, with additional hygiene and social distancing measures now considered the ‘new normal’ for factory life. Changes from the normal PPE regime, moving to full snoods for everyone and doubling the number of hand sanitising stations throughout the factory are just a small number of safety measures that have been implemented.
Acknowledging the hard work of all employees, Michael explained, “We are nothing without it. From the outset we have assured our colleagues that we only expect their best, but we don’t expect anyone to put themselves or their families at risk, or under undue stress as a
result of this crisis.
“We have encouraged anyone who feels they may be in an ‘at risk’, either themselves, or with a family member, to stay at home and follow
government guidelines. None of this would be possible without the 100% support of our regular staff members, but also our team of student
temporary staff who made themselves available as the colleges closed.”
He continued, “An unfortunate casualty of the crisis was our factory shop. We quickly decided that in the interests of keeping our staff and factory as distanced as possible from sources of infection it would be unwise to have the general public come onto the site. “As a local business community we all depend on each other – after all we still need to get raw materials in, an impossible task without transport and storage companies like Liam Connolly, and of course we still need the post office to send out the invoices, we need to have banking services to make sure our wages are processed, right down to canteen supplies which all come from our local business colleagues.
“My hope is for a bright future at Western Brand. Without a positive outlook we couldn’t have got where we are, not to mention where we’re
going. “Positivity comes by building on the successful outcomes of the many steps we have taken forwards, and learning from, but not dwelling on the odd step back.
“Over the past three months we made the changes needed to keep our products on the shelves of our existing supermarket customers whose demand increased by as much as 30% overnight. During this time we launched two new lines in Scotland, a seven product summer range in Ireland and a suite of five new Halal products in England. Our stated goal is to be the chicken of the choice on the Island of Ireland and
beyond – and that’s where we’re going one small step at a time.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA