Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Dawn Meats weighs up takeover bid for Dunbia

Dunbia employs nearly 4,000 people around the globe, including around 1,000 in Dungannon
Dunbia employs nearly 4,000 people around the globe, including around 1,000 in Dungannon
Dawn Meats logo.

Rachel Martin

Irish food giant Dawn Meats is lining up a takeover bid for Northern Ireland meat firm Dunbia.

It is understood the Waterford-based company is close to making an offer for the Co Tyrone firm, formerly known as Dungannon Meats.

Discussions between the two companies are thought to have been taking place for around six months. But despite several industry insiders backing the claims, both companies declined to comment.

Dawn Meats said its policy is "not to comment on market rumours or speculation," while a spokeswoman for Dunbia said the firm had "no comment to make".

Dunbia is run by brothers Jim and Jack Dobson and has annual sales of around £787m (€903m). The firm employs nearly 4,000 people around the globe, including around 1,000 in Dungannon. Last year the firm sold its pork business in Cullybackey, Co Antrim to English-based Cranswick.

It's understood the latest development involves the rest of the business, processing lamb and beef, as insiders say the brothers may be seeking to sell the business to prepare for their retirement.

CEO of Dawn Meats Niall Browne
CEO of Dawn Meats Niall Browne

The Dobson brothers came in at 129th in this year's Sunday Times Rich List, published earlier this month.

They were reported to have a net worth of €104m.

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In its accounts for the year ending March 2016, group company Dunbia made a pre-tax profit of £7.2m (€8.2m). However, this also included the pork processing business. In the financial year 2015-16, the firm was estimated to have £63.9m (€73.3m) worth of assets.

Dawn Meats is part of Arrow Group, owned by the Queally brothers from Waterford.

The firm is known for its brands Dawn Meats, Black Angus, Red Hereford, Charolais Gold, Nature's Meadow, and Highlands Meats.

Dunbia would not be the Irish meat firm's first UK acquisition. In 2011, Dawn Meats took over Duerden Lindal Moor beef abattoir in the Lake District and three years later, bought the Jasper beef abattoir and boning facility in Cornwall.

In 2015, took on a 49pc stake in Elivia, a €1bn (£870m) turnover business and the second-largest beef and veal processor in France.

In 2012, the firm took over West Devon Meats, a beef and lamb abattoir in the south west of England.

Dawn Meats was established as a small family business in Co Waterford in 1980.

The firm employs more than 3,300 people across its production, sales, marketing and distribution operation arms.

In 2014, Dawn Meats was estimated to have a turnover of €1.1bn.

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