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Tyrone firm Capper in £15m plan to create 40 new jobs

A Co Tyrone transport and logistics firm is set to invest in a £15m expansion, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Capper Trading, which employs 125 people at its headquarters off the M1 near Dungannon, has said its new 22,000 sq m agri-development hub will create 40 new jobs in the area.

The family-owned firm has been based near the Tamnamore Roundabout for 50 years, and has grown into a £25m turnover company, supplying Northern Ireland's agri-industries with a fleet of 50 lorries.

In addition to transport, haulage and logistics, Capper specialises in the sale of coal, oil and wood.

However it is in the production of animal feed and bedding that the company says it sees the greatest potential. Capper supplies over 500 agri-businesses, with John Thompson & Sons and Moy Park among its key clients.

The company delivers 12-13,000 tonnes of animal feed to the poultry giant every week.

Managing director Philip Hill joined the company three years ago after a decade in the banking sector. "The big driver for growth in our business has been the feed and on the bedding, that's where we see big potential," he said.

Over the past five years the company has invested up to £5m in research and development on that side of the business. Support has also come from economic development agency Invest NI to the tune of £1.8m. The result has been a new form of pelletised straw bedding.

"We supply most of the poultry producers on the island of Ireland," said Mr Hill. "We were the first to introduce that, and that was off the back of an R&D programme."

Mr Hill said innovation had been a constant feature in the company founded by Robert Capper on his family farm. "Robert Capper started with one truck in the Sixties and over the years the business has organically grown and we're now at the point where we have filled and exceeded the capacity on our existing site."

Plans for the firm's new development hub were sent to Mid Ulster planning officials last week. Capper has earmarked a site on the other side of the M1 for the new build. The company said the construction phase will create 20 jobs over a 10-year programme, with an estimated £11.3m contribution to the Northern Ireland economy, with most of it benefiting Mid Ulster.

Philip Hill said: "In the next five to 10 years our ambition is to grow our transport and logistic capacity year on year, both locally and internationally."

He said the location of the business is crucial to its continuing success. "We see the exports as a key part of our business and a genuine real opportunity for growth. The export sales are almost exclusively to southern Ireland."

However the company is eyeing more international exports for its growing bedding business. Like many logistics firms, Capper has been assessing how its business will look after Brexit. "The biggest concern around Brexit is the uncertainty. We have spent time with our key advisers looking at possible outcomes of how that may look. Like most haulage companies we have a number of non-local driving employees. We have seen an exit across the industry of drivers from Eastern Europe for example, electing to move to Euro-zone countries where they can earn Euro.

"That's going to be a continual challenge, but until we know what the detail looks like, it's very difficult to articulate how we are going to react."

Belfast Telegraph

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