Founder takes control at Western Meat Packers

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Western Meat Packers Group Margaret River abattoir general manager Jamie Warburton and chief executive Andrew Fuda with one of the newly branded WMPG trucks leaving to deliver beef to Perth.
Camera IconWestern Meat Packers Group Margaret River abattoir general manager Jamie Warburton and chief executive Andrew Fuda with one of the newly branded WMPG trucks leaving to deliver beef to Perth.

WA’s Western Meat Packers Group founder Rod Russell has taken full control of the company, buying out other family members.

WMPG, which has been operating since 1983, is one of WA’s only remaining independent beef processors.

Rod and Shana Russell have completed a buy-out of Russell and Lee family members in the firm’s Margaret River abattoir, meaning the couple now have 100 per cent ownership of all assets of WMPG.

The company, which employs 360 people and has an annual turnover of about $150 million, was three years ago considering a buyout offer from WA-based Craig Mostyn Group and Japan’s S Foods.

The couple have announced plans to expand the Margaret River facility to 570 head a day.

Under the plan, the site will be bolstered with significant chiller capacity upgrades and other fitouts to accommodate developing export market prospects.

The upgrade is expected to provide more than 100 new jobs.

WMPG chief executive Andrew Fuda said such a positive investment by the founders signalled an exciting stage in the beef company’s future.

“Although we currently send all beef, typically sides and quarters, overnight to WMPG’s Osborne Park boning and packing facility to ensure rapid turnaround from paddock to plate, we’re moving towards boning and packing at our Margaret River plant to optimise expanding business opportunities in Asia in particular,” he said.

“A new integrated chiller and freezer unit at Margaret River will allow faster packing and freezing, minimising shrinkage while also improving yields of offals, which are becoming sought after by WMPG’s Asian export customers.

“The new fit out also meant that shifts could be expanded and processing could move to seven days, with a weekly slaughter capacity of more than 4000 head.

“Also, with chilling and freezing all under one roof and on the site where the cattle are slaughtered and processed, it’ll put us in the frame for export listings for China and Malaysia, both markets we’ve been working on for quite some time.

“The Western Meat Packers brand and reputation for quality and reliability in Asian markets, developed and nurtured over 30 plus years by Rod and senior management gives us confidence that once equipped with the appropriate listings, we can move quickly to supply.”

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