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Meat firm Dunbia boosts profits as annual turnover hits £826m

By John Mulgrew

Published 31/12/2015

Finance Minister Arlene Foster with Jim Dobson, managing director of Dunbia Group
Finance Minister Arlene Foster with Jim Dobson, managing director of Dunbia Group

Northern Ireland meat giant Dunbia has boosted its profits by more than 40%, with turnover shooting up to £826m for the year.

The latest results for the Dungannon-headquartered firm come after the Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this month that it could be sold, as it begins looking for buyers.

A teaser document has been prepared, due to be sent out to businesses who may have an interest in snapping it up.

Pre-tax profits at the beef, lamb and pork processor rose to more than £6.5m in the year to March 29, 2015.

That's up from £4.6m a year earlier, and an increase of around 8%. Dunbia's turnover also increased from £769m to £826m.

It says it's now focusing on "product development and volume growth" in order to expand its business. The company, which has around a dozen sites across the UK and Ireland, has been running for almost 40 years. And it's still run by founders, brothers Jim and Jack Dobson.

In the strategic report included in its latest accounts, Dunbia said the "financial position of the group at the end of the of the financial period was considered to be satisfactory".

It said its future strategy "will continue to be that of product development and volume growth".

"While the group and the industry as a whole have battled with fluctuating livestock prices, the group has been able to work closely with customers in retaining gross profit margin, and will continue to do so."

No one from Dunbia was available for comment on the latest company results. Staff numbers across the firm's businesses increased by more than 350, to 3,605 for the year to March 29.

That led to overall staff costs increasing to almost £74m for the financial year. Last year, Dunbia edged close to a £769m turnover for the year ending March 2014.

That was up more than £40m on the previous. But pre-tax profits for the company fell during the course of 2014, dropping by almost £3m to £4.6m.

Dunbia supplies meat, including beef, lamb and pork, to a range of customers throughout the UK and further afield.

Some of its big contracts include supermarket giants Sainbury's and Asda. It sources livestock from more than 22,000 producers across the UK and Ireland. And while it's increased its profits over the last two years, and remains one of Northern Ireland's "most successful red meat companies" it still deals with "fine margins", along with much of the food processing industry here", according to economist John Simpson.

Speaking about the business looking for new buyers, Mr Simpson said it is likely to attract meat firms from Great Britain, and further afield.

It's not clear whether Dunbia would sell its entire business, or let go some its dozen sites across the UK and Ireland.

Earlier this year, Northern Ireland poultry giant Moy Park was sold to Brazilian food group JBS SA in a deal worth almost £1bn.

Belfast Telegraph

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