Dawn Meats has entered into a strategic partnership with rival Dunbia, which will see the establishment of a joint venture in the UK, comprising the UK operations of both organisations.
The tie-up, which is subject to regulatory approval, will also see Dawn Meats acquire Dunbia’s two operations in the Republic in Slane and Kilbeggan, bringing its network of facilities to nine.
Ireland’s meat industry is uniquely exposed to Brexit, and Dunbia’s considerable presence in the UK – it has two large plants in the North and seven in Britain – provides Waterford-based Dawn with a Brexit buffer as well as cementing its UK supply chain.
The combined UK businesses will trade as Dunbia and will be run from Dunbia’s existing headquarters in Dungannon.
The companies said the new joint venture would deliver enhanced scale and market presence to better serve existing farmer suppliers and customers of both organisations across the retail, manufacturing, wholesale and food service sectors.
“The businesses are highly complementary, and will offer customers regionally sourced solutions for both beef and lamb from 15 facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” they said.
The announcement ends months of speculation about a possible takeover of Dunbia by Dawn Meats, which is the second-largest beef processor in Ireland behind Larry Goodman’s ABP.
Dunbia, run by brothers Jim and Jack Dobson is a leading processor of beef and lamb with nine sites located across the UK and Ireland, employing around 4,000 people.
As well as its considerable Irish and UK operations Dawn holds a 49 per cent shareholder in Elivia, the second largest beef processor in France. The company is the main supplier of beef to fast food giant McDonald’s in Europe.
Combined both companies will process approximately 900,000 cattle and 2.6 million sheep annually.
“We are both family businesses with a deep connection to farming and a culture and business ethos that is centred on quality and sustainability,” Dawn chief executive Niall Browne said.
“Given the uncertainty posed by Brexit, this partnership should further underpin the competitiveness of both operations to the benefit of all stakeholders in the UK, Ireland and across Europe,” he said.
Dunbia boss Jim Dobson said:“This is the right strategic partnership for Dunbia’s staff and customers and sees us joining with a company with a shared heritage of excellence in the production of premium beef and lamb products.”
“The new UK joint venture confirms our future as a leading supplier in the UK market. In a consolidating industry this deal makes strategic sense for both companies, our customers and our farmer suppliers,” he added.