'Abattoirs will reopen': Leitch

DUDLEY Leitch is confident the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs will reopen, even if it is not under the ownership or management of Leitch Pastoral Group.

“I don’t think there is any doubt the abattoirs will get back up and running because they have a very significant importance in south-east Queensland; because they’re the only two multi-species abattoirs of any significant size,” Mr Leitch said.

He confirmed he was considering selling the abattoirs.

“That is an option yes, and it doesn’t have to happen, but it is an option,” he said.

“There are a lot of offers, to be honest, on the table already and it’s possible that will happen but nothing is formalised.”

Mr Leitch said he believed the two main reasons the abattoirs had been forced to go into voluntary administration, as reported in the Daily News on Wednesday, were outstanding payments to Condamine River Meats and a failed bid to unite the various wholesaling entities under the one banner.

“We had put the wholesale under the one arm and it hasn’t worked ... we tried to do it in August,” he said.

“The main problem we were having out there was firstly the wholesale people not selling the meat at the right price and not making money.

“The lack of salesmen they had pushing the product was also a problem and the lack of ability to collect debts from our clients.

“Grant Thornton will send letters of demand and that money will be used to pay creditors and hopefully the abattoir will reopen.”

Mr Leitch said he would now step back from the meat operations of Leitch Pastoral Group entirely, but said he would continue to run the farming entities, insisting they were completely separate.

“As of (Tuesday) I’ve stepped right away from the operations,” he said.

Mr Leitch said a core group of administration staff and a “couple of mechanical and key maintenance” staff would be kept on site at Killarney for now to collect debts and ensure the plant remains ready to reopen.

“Look, it’s one step at a time. The first step is to collect as much money as possible,” he said.

It is understood a number of Leitch Pastoral Group properties in the region separate to the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs are already on the market and enquiries have been taken by marketing agents.

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