Belfast Telegraph

Belfast-based feed firm Thompsons is to buy part of McLarnon Feeds from poultry giant Moy Park

Exclusive by Rachel Martin

Belfast-based feed company Thompsons is to buy part of McLarnon Feeds from poultry giant Moy Park, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

It's understood that both companies have already spoken to employees about the takeover.

John Thompson & Sons is Ireland's largest animal feed manufacturer and will grow even further if the deal goes ahead to buy the dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep feed side of McLarnon, based in Randalstown.

Thompson's will also own the McLarnon name, which is well known within the agricultural sector.

The deal is thought to be worth over £500,000 and could be completed within the next week.

Craigavon-based Moy Park - the number six company in today's Belfast Telegraph Top 100 - will hold on to chicken feed side of the McLarnon business.

A Moy Park spokeswoman said last night: "In line with standard practice we do not comment on market speculation."

BHH, which is part of the Barnett family business empire, jointly owns John Thompson & Sons along with Origin Enterprises plc.

W&R Barnett features at number eight in today's Top 100, which is produced in association with Arthur Cox. BHH is at number 53.

In 2010, Moy Park entered into the turkey meat sector after acquiring O'Kane Poultry - a move which brought the company's turnover past the £1bn mark.

As part of that deal, Moy Park also agreed to take on McLarnon Feeds.

John Thompson & Sons already makes chicken food for poultry feed for Moy Park Ltd in a joint venture.

Brazilian food giant Marfrig sold Moy Park to fellow Brazilian firm JBS last year, a deal worth nearly £1bn.

Economist John Simpson, who compiles the Top 100, said: "This is the Barnett empire getting bigger and it's already very big.

"This is further consolidation in the farm feeds sector and is a big company taking an interest in a much smaller one.

"It will be a risk to competition but on the other hand will help the survival of the smaller business which is being taken over."

Thompson's was founded in the 1880s and has grown through investment and acquisition to become one of the largest single-site feed mills in Europe.

And the McLarnon deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions for W&R Barnett.

Back in November the company acquired a majority share in the packaging firm Logson Group.

The Logson Group, which is head-quartered in Leicestershire, employs over 850 people and turns over £185m annually.

The company is also a prominent independent supplier of bulk liquid storage facilities to the UK food, feed, industrial and energy sectors with over 400,000 cubic metres of storage assets located on the Mersey, Humber, Thames and Avonmouth.

The company reported a turnover of £815m in its latest results which came from the year ending July 31, 2015.

Pre-tax profits were also down 6% from £31.8m to £29.8m.

The directors' report accompanying the results said: "The group will continue to invest in people, product development, facilities and suitable developments in order to ensure its ongoing development."

Belfast Telegraph