Irish meat processors Dawn Meats and Dunbia have agreed a strategic partnership to establish a majority-owned joint venture comprising of the UK operations of both organisations.

Dawn will separately acquire Dunbia’s operations in the Republic of Ireland. The deal is subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities.

In Ireland, Dawn Meats will have nine facilities, including five abattoirs, following the addition of two complementary Dunbia facilities – one abattoir in Slane and one boning hall in Kilbeggan.

The combined UK businesses will trade as Dunbia and the deal 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, a statement said.

Dunbia CEO Jim Dobson will run the new joint venture, with Dawn Meats CEO Niall Browne acting as executive chairman.

The jv will be run from Dunbia’s existing headquarters in Dungannon, Northern Ireland.

“We are both family businesses with a deep connection to farming and a culture and business ethos that is centred on quality and sustainability,” Browne said.

“Given the uncertainty posed by Brexit, this partnership should further underpin the competiveness of both operations to the benefit of all stakeholders in the UK, Ireland and across Europe.

“We are very excited about the future of both companies and the opportunities that this transaction will bring for our staff, customers and suppliers. In our key operating markets we will be involved in three leading national businesses, with Dawn Meats in Ireland, Dunbia in the UK and Elivia in France, with our cooperative partners Terrena.”

Dobson added: “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.”

Across Dawn Meats and Dunbia, the businesses process approximately 900,000 cattle and 2.6 million sheep annually from 15 facilities across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dawn supplier Irish and British red meat to a range of supermarkets, foodservice businesses and restaurants in Ireland and the UK, as well as exporting to 48 countries around the world. It is also a 49% shareholder in Elivia, the number two beef processor in France, which processes approximately 500,000 cattle annually.

Dunbia has nine sites located across the UK and Ireland, employing around 4,000 staff. The company is one of Northern Ireland’s largest privately owned companies and currently exports to 36 countries worldwide.