Belfast Telegraph

Meat firm Dunbia considering moving some operations to GB amid Brexit concerns


Arlene Foster, then DETI Minister, outside Dunbia with managing director Jim Dobson
Arlene Foster, then DETI Minister, outside Dunbia with managing director Jim Dobson
Dunbia boss Jack Dobson

By John Mulgrew

One of Northern Ireland's biggest companies is considering moving some of its operations to Great Britain due to fears over the fallout from Brexit, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Meat giant Dunbia, which is based in Co Tyrone but has around 10 sites across Ireland and the UK, processes red meat here, as well as in Great Britain.

But it's understood the firm, which employs more than 1,000 staff in Northern Ireland and almost 4,000 in total, has discussed at a senior level moving much of its processing to England and Wales.

It's believed the company, which has its headquarters in Dungannon, has concerns over potential delays at ports if border controls are introduced. These would have an effect on early morning ferry crossings from Ireland, which contain meat deliveries for major supermarkets in Great Britain.

Dunbia is run by brothers Jim and Jack Dobson and has annual sales of around £787m. Dunbia did not wish to comment.

In 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the company was being put up for sale.

Just last month, the Belfast Telegraph revealed Irish food giant Dawn Meats is being lined up to take over parts of Dunbia.

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Last year, the firm sold its pork business in Cullybackey, Co Antrim, to Cranswick plc, which is based in England.

Dunbia has seen its pre-tax profits grow to more than £7m.

It saw turnover fall from £826.6m, to £787.6m.

In its latest company accounts, ending March 27, 2016, the firm said a drop in turnover "was driven by deflation in livestock price".

The company started life as a red meat processor, primarily beef, but has now grown its reach across the wider meat industry. Set up in 1976 in what was a Dungannon butcher's shop, it has since added sites throughout the UK and Ireland.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, another Northern Ireland business giant, pharmaceutical firm Almac, said its decision to open premises in the Republic was a direct result of Brexit.

Almac, which is based in Craigavon, told a House of Commons committee that it had not been in a position to wait and see the outworkings of the UK departure from the EU.

And last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed manufacturing giant Glen Dimplex is shifting some of its Northern Ireland operations to the Republic with the loss of around 20 jobs.

The world's largest electric heating and renewable energy business, which employs some 10,000 people worldwide, has its roots in Newry, Co Down.

However, it's understood the firm is making 19 staff in its Portadown site redundant, and moving some of those operations to the Republic.

Staff in Portadown are involved in the manufacture of components.

Belfast Telegraph