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End of an era for Norfolk turkey king Bernard Matthews

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:39 02 July 2010

Paul Hill, business editor

An era will come to an end at one of Norfolk and East Anglia's biggest and best-known businesses this weekend as Bernard Matthews steps back from the day-to-day running of the turkey empire he created 60 years ago.

An era will come to an end at one of Norfolk and East Anglia's biggest and best-known businesses this weekend as Bernard Matthews steps back from the day-to-day running of the turkey empire he created 60 years ago.

Mr Matthews has decided to retire as chairman of the company's main board on his 80th birthday this Sunday - putting the daily decisions about the future of the firm in the hands of his fellow directors.

But he will continue to play a role in the business he built from scratch in the 1950s and which became a £300m-plus giant of the food industry, employing more than 2,000 people in East Anglia alone.

Mr Matthews will become chairman of a new "supervisory" board that will meet four times a year to represent his family's interests.

Former Anglia Television and Greene King chairman David McCall, who has been a non-executive director of the turkey firm since 1996, will take Mr Matthews' place at the head of the main board.

Noel Bartram, Bernard Matthews Group chief executive, said: "Bernard Matthews has been an iconic businessman in the county for over 50 years and to continue to be actively involved in the business at 80 is a testament to his character and approach to life.

"From simple beginnings, with an investment of just £2.50, Mr Matthews has been responsible for taking the business from a few turkey eggs and a paraffin heater to a successful and thriving national brand.

"He is the man who effectively put turkey on the plates of everyday working families and in so doing he not only became one of the largest employers in rural East Anglia but has also supported the local farming community through the purchase of hundreds of tonnes of wheat to feed the turkeys."

Mr Bartram added: "However, Mr Matthews has scaled back his day-to-day involvement in the business for a number of years now.

"Given that the business recently returned to profit with a clear strategy in place for growth, he felt that his 80th birthday was an appropriate time for him to step back as chairman of the holdings (main) board.

"It will come as no surprise, however, that Mr Matthews is not entirely retiring from the business.

"Instead, he is taking on the role of chairman of the supervisory board which represents family interests and approves key strategic business decisions."

Do you have a business story for the Evening News? Call reporter Sam Williams on 01603 772447 or email sam.williams@archant.co.uk

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