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Dawn Meats to take full control of Northern Ireland's Dunbia

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Dunbia founder Jim Dobson with Arlene Foster

Dunbia founder Jim Dobson with Arlene Foster

Dunbia founder Jim Dobson with Arlene Foster

Northern Ireland meat giant Dunbia is now entirely under the control of Dawn Meats after the Waterford firm took full control of the business.

It brings to an end 44 years of Northern Ireland ownership of Dunbia, which grew into one of the biggest food companies north of the border.

Jim Dobson co-founded Dunbia in Dungannon with his brother Jack in 1976, building it into an enterprise exporting to 36 countries.

Dawn Meats was founded by three farming families in Co Waterford in 1980. It joined with Dunbia in a joint venture in 2017.

That deal saw Dawn acquire Dunbia's Republic of Ireland operations, resulting in a total of 10 Dawn Meats facilities.

Dunbia employs 1,000 people in Northern Ireland, an increase of 25pc since the joint venture was formed. It processes beef and lamb from 12 facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"The creation of the joint venture with Dawn Meats ensured the business would continue to grow as a leading quality meat supplier in the UK market," said Mr Dobson.

"I want to thank all the team that has worked on the integration and feel confident that they are well-placed to build on all our past achievements together."

Dawn Meats' combined businesses in the UK and Ireland now employ over 7,000 staff working with over 30,000 farmers.

Michael Bell, executive director of the NI Food and Drink Association (NIFDA), said Mr Dobson had been a "pillar of industry".

"The success of Dunbia - turning a small butcher business into one of Europe's leading meat processing companies - is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and sheer hard work of Jim and his brother Jack.

"Jim has been an active NIFDA member for many years and a forceful voice for Northern Ireland food and drink. I wish him a very well deserved long and happy retirement."

Niall Browne, CEO of Dawn Meats, said that combining the operations in the UK has been a strategic success based on a strong cultural fit between two family-owned businesses.

Irish Independent