LacPatrick is 'ready for Brexit challenge'
Dairy group LacPatrick is ready to meet the challenges of a hard Brexit, according to its boss Gabriel D'Arcy. The dairy co-operative unveiled a new operation in Northern Ireland that will allow it to process milk on both sides of the Border.
However, Mr D'Arcy said the company was not yet "Brexit-proofed".
"We're ready to meet the challenges of Brexit," he told the Irish Independent. "I wouldn't necessarily say that we're Brexit proofed. If you look at the full extremities of the potential outcome here, you'd be a brave person in any environment to say that you were Brexit proofed.
"But - in so far as we can and within reason - we're in a reasonably strong position to deal with the initial primal risks associated with whatever outcome arises."
Mr D'Arcy said that whether Britain remained in the Customs Union or not, Brexit would have a "massive impact".
"We can deal with the scenario if they're out of the customs union on March 2019," he added. "We'd prefer if they weren't, but we're ready to deal with that on the most primal side. We're as well positioned as we possibly could be as we wait further developments."
LacPatrick yesterday unveiled a 30,000 sq ft dairy technology centre that it described as one of the most innovative and modern facilities of its kind in the European dairy industry. Costing over £30m, the new facility at its Artigarvan plant in Co Tyrone, houses a new evaporation and spray-drying technology capable of making advanced dairy ingredients for LacPatrick's expanding markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Mr D'Arcy said the new facility would allow LacPatrick to produce up to 12 tonnes of dried dairy ingredients an hour up from five tonnes previously, and process 2.5 million litres of milk a day on the site, up from one million previously.
Although he said the Artigarvan expansion plans pre-dated Brexit, its existence has helped boost LacPatrick's defences.
"The biggest single threat facing us - facing any diary entity - is the ability first and foremost to collect the milk and process all of that milk in the jurisdiction from which it has been derived," Mr D'Arcy said.
"We can now process all of the milk that we collect in the North, and vice versa in the Republic. So that is a huge risk mitigation in advance of whatever agreement will ensue."
In May Mr D'Arcy said LacPatrick had seen a 25pc surge in its sales into the British market in the wake of Brexit, due to its presence in Northern Ireland. He said that was continuing.
"A lot these companies are large. If they're buying 100pc of their material from outside of the UK, their boards and senior leadership teams are saying, we'd better start looking at UK suppliers of these materials - irrespective of what the price is."
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