Thomas Foods International fire: 12 months later, CEO Darren Thomas says plans for Murray Bridge rebuild are progressing

Darren Thomas. Photo: Darren Thomas/LinkedIn.
Darren Thomas. Photo: Darren Thomas/LinkedIn.

"We're getting there."

A year after fire devastated the Murray Bridge meat works of Thomas Foods International (TFI), that is the message from the company's chief executive officer, Darren Thomas.

TFI has come to an arrangement with its insurer and hired "internationally renowned" food processing experts to design a new, world-leading facility, which will be built at another site in the Murray Bridge district.

But support will be sought from state and federal governments, regulatory authorities and the community before that vision is realised.

Specifically, Mr Thomas said, TFI needed to confirm that the new plant would have the physical infrastructure and skilled workforce it needed.

He expected tenders would be issued for the construction of the new plant in "the next few months".

"We said from day one that the road ahead would be a difficult one," Mr Thomas said in a statement.

"We acknowledge that there hasn't been an easy outcome for everyone and that some people have been impacted harder than others.

"Despite this, the efforts of our staff to overcome obstacles and minimise disruption to our global operations has been nothing short of extraordinary.

"I couldn't be prouder or more thankful.

"These events can destroy companies, but Thomas Foods International is emerging stronger."

Mr Thomas was buoyant about the jobs created at Lobethal and Tamworth following the Murray Bridge fire; the opening of a TFI office in Japan; and the expansion of the company's operations in China, the United States and Europe.

He did not speculate about the future of TFI's current site, beside the Rocky Gully wetland.

"In the meantime, we thank the local community for your patience and understanding and will provide further updates when we can," he said.

The cost of the project is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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