Belfast Telegraph

Meat companies lead the field as Northern Ireland's Top 100 businesses for 2016 revealed

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's largest meat firms have claimed the top two positions in the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies.

Poultry giant Moy Park is number one in the Top 100, which is sponsored by law firm A&L Goodbody, boasting sales of more than £1.4bn for the last year.

Moy Park is also one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers, with around 6,300 staff.

Co Tyrone red meat company Dunbia came in second place on the list by the Belfast Telegraph's sister publication, with turnover of £826m for the last financial year.

Both companies are major home-grown successes, although Moy Park is now part of an international business. It was sold for $1.5bn (£945m) to Brazilian firm JBS in 2015.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed in December last year that Dungannon's Dunbia was on the market and seeking buyers for its pork and red meat business.

Grain importer W&R Barnett is in third position with £815m in sales.

Ulster Business editor David Elliott said it was the first time in the 27-year history of the list that agri-food had claimed the top three. "It's a sign of the industry's growing dominance in the economy here," he added.

Economist John Simpson said the input of individuals had helped Moy Park's stellar growth, while Dunbia had also worked hard to achieve success.

"With Dunbia, the red meat industry in Northern Ireland, even with all the various health scares, has managed to make money," he explained. "It's partly because we produce red meat and sell it competitively."

Some of the other Northern Ireland firms making the list which have since been bought over include Co Antrim bike firm Chain Reaction.

Big names making the list for the first time include Bushmills Distillery and the Harland & Wolff group.

Other new businesses on the list include San Diego software firm Qualcomm Technologies.

Some of Northern Ireland's pharma giants - which remain independently-owned - are also included.

That includes Craigavon's Almac Group, which has a turnover of almost £400m and profits of close to £28m, along with Dr Peter FitzGerald's medical testing firm Randox, which came in at number 74 on the list.

Newcomers also include Firmus Energy, which had sales of £123m, according to its last set of accounts.

Others include Carbane House, the trading name for Newry-based construction giant O'Hare & McGovern, which boasted turnover of £79m and profits of £4.5m.

And United Dairy Farmers, which owns Dale Farm, came in at number 17, posting turnover of £420m.

Mr Elliott said the list continued to "shine a light on the engine room of the Northern Ireland economy".

"From cheese-makers to engineers, bus manufacturers to chemists, the list shows that the diverse nature of our businesses provide a strong foundation for future growth," he added.

"Although profits have been hit, turnover continues to grow and acts as a good indicator of how much each company contributes to the local economy."

Mark Thompson, head of A&L Goodbody's Belfast office, said: " The formidable companies continue to lead by example in proving that, with drive, determination and resilience, challenges can be overcome.

"Despite the uncertainty that lies in the months ahead, we look forward to seeing these companies continue to thrive."

Belfast Telegraph