Belfast Telegraph

Don't chicken out ... cut this tax and economy will grow

The latest in a series of interviews focused on the subject of corporation tax takes a look at the food sector. BDO's Maybeth Shaw speaks to Nigel Dunlop, chief executive of Moy Park

Since it was established in 1943, Moy Park has grown to become one of Northern Ireland's biggest firms in terms of revenue and employee numbers.

The company, which employs nearly 11,000 people, works across 12 sites in Northern Ireland, England, France and the Netherlands and processes over 200 million chickens and two million turkeys per year.

Chief executive officer Nigel Dunlop took the helm at the company in 2008, around the time it was acquired by Brazilian-based food firm Marfrig.

The global food market has undergone significant change in recent years as population has grown and consumer preferences have changed, especially in emerging economies.

"We are committed to producing locally sourced, high quality poultry products for export and being part of a multi-national gives us a global perspective and allows us to keep ahead of consumer demand, focus on innovation and grow business with new and existing customers," says Nigel.

Increased demand for these high quality food products is something of a double-edged sword - as new markets open up, production increases globally with a resulting increase in raw material prices. In that context, Nigel is clear of the benefit and importance of reduced corporation tax for Moy Park.

"Any reduction in corporation tax will see a significant benefit to the company's cash flow - this means we can reinvest in the business, maintain our competitive position within the worldwide market and, ultimately, employ more people.

"The recent acquisition of O'Kane is an example of how we can accelerate growth. This has allowed us to expand our customer base, increase capacity and enter the turkey sector.

"The company launched a 100,000 sq ft turkey processing factory before Christmas to meet growing demand."

As the company is part of a large international group which operates right across the globe, a reduction in corporation tax in Northern Ireland makes Moy Park a choice for further expansion within the wider Marfrig Group.

"There is no doubt that international tax planning plays a major role in Marfrig's global operations - a reduction in corporation tax will give Moy Park a competitive edge in any group-wide expansion programme," he says.

"There is always competition for investment capital and reduced tax and it's important we're always underlining that Northern Ireland is premier location to base our operations."

On the impact on the wider economy, the Moy Park CEO emphasises that a reduction cannot be at the expense of other business support measures and should not be a standalone initiative.

"The devolution of the corporation tax regime cannot be a standalone measure and should act as an additional element of support for business in Northern Ireland.

"Other measures are important to ensure we build a vibrant, stable and sustainable economy," he says.

Nigel is positive about the wider outlook for the Northern Ireland economy, which he is confident will be delivered with the full range of support measures.

"The whole economy needs a stimulus for growth and a reduction in corporation tax could be the cornerstone of a growth strategy. Corporation tax reduction needs to be part of a package to encourage businesses to operate here.

"We need higher rates of economic participation, a well- developed infrastructure, clear and efficient planning regulations, and economic and political stability.

"Business, academia and government all have a role to play in making this happen. These catalysts for growth, coupled with our skilled workforce, will not only close the economic gaps with GB, but make Northern Ireland a truly attractive place to do business for companies from across the globe.

"We believe that corporation tax reduction is the stimulus that Northern Ireland needs."

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