TWO THRIVING Cleckheatonbased food suppliers have been taken over by supermarket giant Asda.
Sliced cooked meat supplier Forza Foods and fresh meat producer Kober Ltd are now part of the national chain.
Both are run by Max SmithHilliard, described by business magazines as ‘the most powerful man in the pig industry’.
The companies are based at the West 26 Industrial Estate off the M62 motorway near Whitehall Road.
Forza imports Polish sausages and other cooked meats for Asda, with whom it has a multimillion pound contract.
The firm reported in its latest accounts that sales rose by 70 tonnes a week to about 800 tonnes a week.
New ranges and increased customer demand lifted turnover in 2011 to £225m, up from £158m the previous year.
The company has invested more than £4m in additional new products, leading to a pretax profit of £8.5m in 2011.
Kober, meanwhile, supplies Asda with bacon rashers, steaks and joints. It produces some 500 tonnes of a bacon a week.
The company still made an operating profit of £1.2m in 2011 despite a £10m investment in new equipment at its premises.
Under the takeover Asda can influence who gets voted on to the board and the operating and financial activities of Forza and Kober. Asda denied the move was about squeezing independents out of the market, insisting they wanted to cut food prices.
Nick Scrase, for Asda, said: “the two most important people in the supply chain are customers and growers. We’re cutting out the middle men.”