Irish company on the asset trail in North America and the Middle East

'We expect the scale of our acquisitions to step up year on year,' - Devenish Nutrition

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Devenish secures UK enterprize award ©
Devenish secures UK enterprize award ©

Related tags: Supply and demand, Middle east

Northern Ireland headquartered, Devenish Nutrition, has just been recognized, through a UK award scheme, for its achievement in the areas of innovation and international trade.

The company, which manufactures nutritional products for the pig, poultry, ruminant, companion animal and equine sectors, has expanded rapidly in the past 17 years. In 1997, it had a turnover of £5m, and, at the end of next month, it is expecting its income to hit the £165m ($237m) mark, with operating profits set to come in at about £7.5m.

Coupled with that revenue trajectory, Devenish said it now allocates £30m annually to innovation. It has six manufacturing plants across the UK and Ireland and the US and exports to 25 countries.

We caught up with executive chairman, Owen Brennan, to hear how about future growth prospects for the animal nutrition company: 

FeedNavigator: What does the Queen’s Award for Enterprise acknowledge?

Owen Brennan:It was given to us based on the progress of sales in our international business​. That division is now generating around£25m in revenue. In 2012, we decided to concentrate our efforts on four regions in one ‘international’ unit, which targets the Middle East, the Caribbean, East Africa and mainland Europe.

In order to grow in those regions, we had to take account of the particular market conditions and requirements and service those effectively. We have exceeded our growth objectives.

There can be challenges in certain markets in relation to poor logistics and infrastructure that can hinder operations but they can be overcome by having the right people on the ground.

We are planning to locate a new manufacturing base in one of those regions this year. But nothing has been finalized yet in that respect. 

Another business unit focuses only on the UK and Ireland, which we consider to be our home market, and, finally, there is a separate Devenish North America operation, with plants in Minnesota and Iowa.

FeedNavigator: What factors are driving demand in developing markets like Africa and Latin America? 

Owen Brennan:All markets have commonality in terms of trends. There is a demand now everywhere for sustainably produced, quality food, so producers need to adapt in terms of using new, modern technology and inputs to meet those requirements.

FeedNavigator: In 2014-15, Devenish allocated £8.3m spend to acquisitions. Does it intend to stay on the offensive in that regard?

Owen Brennan:We see acquisition as the most expedient way of growing our business, finding innovative partners to help us expand. We expect the scale of our acquisitions to step up year on year.

In terms of actual prospects, we are in talks to secure a company in North America, and we are assessing another prospect in the Middle East​.

FeedNavigator: Devenish acquired two organic feed producers, Anpario’s Vitrition division, and Hi Peak Feeds, in recent years. Can you give us a health check on the sector right now?

Owen Brennan:The market is robust and we expect growth acceleration in that sector. There is huge demand for organic food in Europe.

The organic offering is and will continue to be a significant part of our business.

FeedNavigator: Are there any dark clouds on the horizon?

Owen Brennan:We live in volatile and uncertain times. There are plenty of challenges. But it is about getting the balance right and thinking long term.

If you look at the dairy market for example, the past 10 years has seen a shift in market fundamentals with the US becoming a major dairy exporter in that period.

Meanwhile, there has been a spike in European output following the ending of the milk quotas and that has changed the supply and demand balance. I don’t want to underplay the current difficulties, but producers there are still investing on the nutrition side.


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