Friday 14 December 2018

Ergo: Chicken King may slice up Irish assets to catch a buyer

Businessman Ranjit Singh Boparan.
Businessman Ranjit Singh Boparan.
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Ranjit Singh Boparan - nicknamed the Chicken King for his poultry business - first came to most Irish people's notice when he swooped in and pinched Northern Foods from under the nose of a somewhat naive Patrick Coveney in his early days at the helm of Greencore.

However, that £342m (€384m) deal and others have left his 2Sisters business heavily in debt and he is flogging off assets here. Earlier this year Green Isle - a subsidiary of 2Sisters - sold Goodfellas pizza for £200m and now Donegal Catch is on the block. The business currently for sale is in fact four businesses, essentially it is what remains of Green Isle. There is the Donegal Catch and the Green Isle brands, a factory which services Donegal Catch in Sligo and one in Galway which makes frozen pies.

Unfortunately, the frozen market is not too hot at the moment and it's something of a ragbag of assets. Green Isle is a brand operating in Europe's highly-commoditised frozen vegetable market. The Donegal Catch brand is almost exclusively for the Irish market. The Sligo fish-processing factory supplies Donegal Catch but also other businesses, while the frozen pies factory exports to the UK.

Industry sources doubt that an Irish buyer would pick up all the assets and the Chicken King is likely open to slicing and dicing the assets in any way which will result in a sale.

Is it time for RTE to cut its coat in these lean times?

RTE has been making its big push for a boost to the licence fee and must be a little unnerved about what is going on in Europe. Today Swiss people will vote in a referendum to scrap the compulsory licence fee, which has been the cause of heated debate in the country. It looks like the majority of people will vote to retain the fee and keep the public service broadcaster in business. But the referendum is sparking other conversations about the validity of the licence fee in Europe with a very lively discussion on the matter taking place on German TV last week.

Back in Ireland, the nub of RTE's woes is that is doesn't have enough money to carry out its wide remit. Last week, executives told this newspaper it would fight to protect its remit, which is laid down in law. Why? Surely RTE must now argue that its remit is simply too broad and it can not be all things to all people. Perhaps it is time the powers that be cut RTE's coat according to its cloth.

Friendly welcome a big plus for concert security firm

Security firms don't have the most friendly of reputations but Dublin-based firm 1 Plus Security is trying to change all that. Set up in 2016, one of its key selling points has been its friendly ethos.

"If you have just paid €300 for a ticket, you want your first interaction with that event to be a positive one," said chief commercial officer Shea McNelis. "People remember extremes of service - and in our case, we want to be the friendliest security service available.

"We don't provide bouncers, and we believe that chucking people out is the always the last solution. Our strength is not in our muscle, it is in our culture."

And something about their approach seems to be working.

The company, which has just launched a new app to give clients real-time information on the location of each security member, had a presence at almost every major music festival in 2017 and this year the company will be providing event security to Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, Festival Republic, Longitude among other events.

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