Belfast Telegraph

Dunbia: From a humble butchers to giant of red meat industry

By John Mulgrew

Dunbia hasn't shied away from taking on board new ventures in nearly 40 years in business.

The meat processor, which primarily sells beef and lamb, snapped up no less than three firms during the course of its last accounting period.

And it has also expanded its Dungannon headquarters a number of times since the mid-1980s.

Its most recent acquisition came at the end of last year, when it took on a sizeable stake in Dutch-based Shannon Meats. That's one of around a dozen businesses and plants it's taken on over the last two decades.

In April 2013, the Dunbia group bought the remaining 50% of Co Tyrone firm Dunrus Limited.

It also acquired family-owned Nottinghamshire abattoir and processor G Wood and Sons a month later, before taking over Scottish firm Lynch Quality Meats in February last year. On the other side of the coin, there had been speculation that Brazilian meat giant Marfrig was interested in acquiring another jewel of our food processing sector after snapping up poultry processor Moy Park.

And speculation was further fuelled with Dunbia's hiring of Tony O'Neill - a former Moy Park man - as deputy chief executive. But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, managing director Jim Dobson dismissed it as mere "conjecture". Dunbia Group is now turning over close to £800m, while its pre-tax profits fell during the course of the last financial year, dropping by almost £3m to £4.6m.

But Dunbia remains one of the leading red meat processors here after almost 40 years working in the industry.

And the company is a very different beast now, compared to its humble roots back in 1976 - when brothers Jim and Jack Dobson set up a butcher's shop in the small village of Moygashel on the edge of Dungannon.

Economist John Simpson said the firm shone a spotlight on the strength of the red meat trade in Northern Ireland.

"Dunbia is one of the firms we look to in the industry, and they are a leading example in their field," he said.

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