Belfast Telegraph

Two different products, one valuable lesson

By Margaret Canning

Two very successful Northern Ireland companies, United Dairy Farmers and Wrightbus, feature heavily in today's business pages.

And while products don't get much more divergent than buses and cheese, both businesses have the same valuable lessons to teach us.

The high growth of the two despite the global economic downturn reminds us that you should never be afraid to diversify.

Wrightbus's research and innovation diverged into flat-pack bus technology, a concept which may seem odd initially but which makes perfect sense if you have your eye on far-flung markets.

Thanks to that focus, Wrightbus is back on the road to Singapore, where it's already fulfilled three contracts for leading public transport company SBS Transit. They are always looking around them to find new international customers.

And Dale Farm, part of United Dairy Farmers, is another which has not allowed the grass to grow under its feet (ahem).

It has sought out new markets around the world, especially in Russia and China – and it's made sure of a solid capital expenditure programme to ensure it can meet demand from new markets.

Closer to home, it has made at least three acquisitions within the last three years, including a welcome rescue of the Fivemiletown brands.

Most of all, it could teach us all a thing or two about the old wives' advice about not throwing anything away. Back in the day its whey protein was donated to pig farmers but now it's a cornerstone of growth in its ingredients business.

It goes into bodybuilders' powders and health drinks – whey to go, if you're looking to bulk up.

Belfast Telegraph