Processing

Mothballed Churchill abattoir hits the market, with expectations above $30m

Jon Condon, 18/08/2021

Aerial view of the Churchill Abattoir facility before it closed in 2018

QUEENSLAND’S Churchill abattoir near Ipswich in the state’s southeast will be put to the market under and expressions of interest campaign.

Arguably the largest Australian meat processing asset to hit the market since the Cootamundra abattoir in NSW was sold last year, Churchill has a capacity to process around 2850 beef carcases a week.

The plant was mothballed in 2018 when major customer, Woolworths shifted its Queensland kill elsewhere.

At least two sets of encouraging negotiations with Chinese and Middle Eastern investors followed, but failed to unearth an investor. The onset of COVID interrupted the most recent round of negotiations with Bahraini interests.

The facility has been owned and operated for the past 20 years by a joint venture involving managing director Barry Moule, and diversified agribusiness investors, the Hall family.

Churchill comprises an abattoir facility processing beef cattle with supporting irrigated cropping land and was operated successfully by the current owners as a domestic abattoir between 2001 and 2018. The business had an exclusive supply contract with Woolworths, supplying all its carcase beef requirements in Queensland and into New South Wales. Prior to the company closing its doors, Churchill employed around 120 staff.

The facility had its origins as one of five service kill abattoirs operated across Queensland by the state government, before the assets were sold and privatised around 2000.

Global protein demand

International and domestic interest is anticipated in the asset, which includes 109ha of surrounding land, including 68ha of grazing land, mostly used for irrigated hay production. An area is also set aside for a solar farm. One area of land is currently share-farmed by a neighbour, while the boning room and cold storage facilities are being leased.

Marketing agent Simon Cudmore from LAWD said a number of options were open to new owners, including re-activating the facility as a domestic beef plant, upgrading to an export beef license, or adding a chain for smallstock processing. Options were also open for a change of purpose, including moving from livestock processing to a value-added foods production role, or cold storage.

“Demand for protein across the world is only continuing to gain momentum,” Mr Cudmore said.

With the growing momentum being seen in exclusion fencing across areas of western Queensland, the state’s sheep and goat population was again rapidly increasing, and currently, the nearest smallstock slaughter facility of any scale was located at Tamworth in NSW.

The fact that the national beef herd was again on the increase, after hitting 25 year lows last year as a result of drought, also presented an ideal time to seek a new owner, Mr Cudmore said.

In its earlier life, Churchill was a true multi-species plant, killing cattle, sheep and pigs.

While the facility has not operated for three years, it had been well maintained, and could re-activate processing reasonably quickly if the new owner wished to do so, he said.

The facility was well-located within range of major saleyards, main arterial road access for livestock, port facilities and a large population base – both as a source of employment and as customers.

Mr Cudmore told Beef Central that price expectations for the facility were in a range from $30-$40 million.

The abattoir includes slaughter floor, boning room, packing room, chillers, freezer and additional rooms for offal, packing and storage.

Churchill’s carcase chillers have a capacity of 1100 carcases, while the modern chilled cold store covers 1500 square metres, and includes pallet racking.

The main abattoir complex was constructed in two phases, with the original Government-owned QAC kill floor constructed in 1945. A large cool room was built in 2005 and extended eight years ago. The whole main plant had about $6.5 million dollars invested into it upgrading the electrics.

The carcase chillers have a capacity of 1100 carcases, while the chilled cold store covers 1500 square metres, and includes pallet racking.

The boning room is constructed of concrete floor, steel structure and insulated for cooling. The boning room feature a modern clear span chamber utilised in conjunction with the nearby Packing Room and includes two boning lines.

Other buildings house by-product processing, rendering, boilers and a maintenance workshop.

  • Handling the expressions of interest sale process are Simon Cudmore from LAWD and Broc Winten, from Winten & Co. Expressions of interest close 6 October.

Churchill’s cold storage and load-out facility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Not near Ipswich (City). It is a suburb of Ipswich.

  2. Neil Barrie, 18/08/2021

    You need a very sharp mind and attention to detail to run a pure service kill site. Such processors have an extremely limited profit upside whilst having their capital beholding to take off agreements based on the lowest margins.
    There are far more attractive food protein assets available for investment as seen in the recent surge of aquatic related capital injections. If it has got four legs, the money is in its growth, not capital hungry, labour-dependent processing.

    • Andy Scott, 21/08/2021

      Hi Andy scott call me soon 0435805140. ncie two states work soon as possible at Meat Processing work soon I am in Booval at lpswich

      • Andy Scott, 05/09/2021

        Hi Andy scott call me soon 0435805140. ncie Day shifts ncie two states work soon as possible at Meat Processing work soon thank U Churchill Meat work

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