Plant swap

Two leading meat processors have agreed to swap facilities in a move designed to strengthen their respective operations in an increasingly competitive market.

It is hoped the deal, struck between Kepak Group and Dunbia, will improve operations in both companies' primary markets and assist them achieving strategic business objectives.

While the Kepak Group will acquire one of Dunbia's Irish abattoirs located at Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, Dunbia will acquire Kepak's Preston-based abattoir and retail packing facility in the UK. The values of the two premises have not been disclosed.

Kepak believes the acquisition of the state-of-the-art Kilbeggan abattoir will strengthen its position as a leading processor of Irish beef while Dunbia, previously known as the Dungannon Meats Group, believes Kepak's Preston abattoir and retail packing plant will reinforce the its reputation as a leading supplier of pre-packed fresh beef, lamb and pork products to UK supermarkets.

Dunbia group managing director, Jim Dobson (pictured), said the exchange made sound commercial sense, "We have been seeking to strengthen our presence in the UK market for quite some time and this deal could not have come at a better time. It fits perfectly with our plans for the development of added-value products for the UK supermarkets."

John Horgan, Kepak Group's managing director added: "We believe that this deal delivers a significant growth in our position both as a leading meat processor in Ireland, and as a preferred supplier to our key customers, domestically and in export markets."

Both factories will continue to operate as going concerns managed by the respective new owners, and both companies are confident of a smooth handover.

The deal, subject to due diligence and statutory obligations, is expected to reach completion within a few months.