Rivals join forces in mushroom merger
Two Irish mushroom firms are to merge in a move that will help both to survive the challenging environment brought about by Brexit.
Gorey firm Walsh Mushrooms has acquired the business and assets of Golden Mushrooms, a Tipperary producer that employs 90 people. All of the staff at Golden Mushrooms will be kept on under the terms of the deal.
The Irish mushroom industry has come under huge strain since the Brexit vote last June, with a number of firms forced to close after a rapid decline in the value of sterling.
Around 150 jobs have been lost in the industry since the vote, with Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin claiming before Christmas that 10pc of the country's producers had already gone out of business as a result of Brexit. Around 80pc of Irish mushrooms are exported to the UK.
The deal will see Golden Mushrooms continuing to trade and operate as normal, albeit it will now come under the Walsh Mushrooms umbrella.
"The last seven months have certainly been incredibly difficult but we are confident that the sector will overcome the challenge created by Brexit," Padraic O'Leary, managing director of Walsh Mushrooms, said.
"The fact is that mushrooms are the second largest vegetable category in the UK, yet the market is not self-sufficient and needs to import 50pc of its mushroom requirement. A long-standing, strong relationship exists between our markets and we are confident that ultimately the UK will return a more sustainable price for Irish mushrooms reflecting the new, post-Brexit, foreign exchange rates."
Walsh Mushrooms is currently the second largest provider of mushrooms to the UK market with a market share estimated at around 15pc. The acquisition will see the number of people employed by the Walsh Mushrooms group rise to 380.
Golden Mushrooms' Michael Bergin said he was "proud to have grown a successful business from scratch".