Ty­rone firm Cap­per in £15m plan to cre­ate 40 new jobs

New hub to be built off M1

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER

A CO TY­RONE trans­port and lo­gis­tics firm is set to in­vest in a £15m ex­pan­sion, the Belfast Tele­graph can re­veal.

Cap­per Trad­ing, which em­ploys 125 peo­ple at its head­quar­ters off the M1 near Dun­gan­non, has said its new 22,000 sq m agri-devel­op­ment hub will cre­ate 40 new jobs in the area.

The fam­ily-owned firm has been based near the Tam­namore Round­about for 50 years, and has grown into a £25m turnover com­pany, sup­ply­ing North­ern Ire­land’s agri-in­dus­tries with a fleet of 50 lor­ries.

In ad­di­tion to trans­port, haulage and lo­gis­tics, Cap­per spe­cialises in the sale of coal, oil and wood.

How­ever it is in the pro­duc­tion of an­i­mal feed and bed­ding that the com­pany says it sees the great­est po­ten­tial. Cap­per sup­plies over 500 agri-busi­nesses, with John Thomp­son & Sons and Moy Park among its key clients.

The com­pany de­liv­ers 12-13,000 tonnes of an­i­mal feed to the poul­try gi­ant ev­ery week.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Philip Hill joined the com­pany three years ago af­ter a decade in the bank­ing sec­tor. “The big driver for growth in our busi­ness has been the feed and on the bed­ding, that’s where we see big po­ten­tial,” he said.

Over the past five years the com­pany has in­vested up to £5m in re­search and devel­op­ment on that side of the busi­ness. Sup­port has also come from eco­nomic devel­op­ment agency In­vest NI to the tune of £1.8m. The re­sult has been a new form of pel­letised straw bed­ding.

“We sup­ply most of the poul­try pro­duc­ers on the is­land of Ire­land,” said Mr Hill. “We were the first to in­tro­duce that, and that was off the back of an R&D pro­gramme.”

Mr Hill said in­no­va­tion had been a con­stant fea­ture in the com­pany founded by Robert Cap- per on his fam­ily farm. “Robert Cap­per started with one truck in the Six­ties and over the years the busi­ness has or­gan­i­cally grown and we’re now at the point where we have filled and ex­ceeded the ca­pac­ity on our ex­ist­ing site.”

Plans for the firm’s new devel­op­ment hub were sent to Mid Ul­ster plan­ning of­fi­cials last week. Cap­per has ear­marked a site on the other side of the M1 for the new build. The com­pany said the con­struc­tion phase will cre­ate 20 jobs over a 10-year pro­gramme, with an es­ti­mated £11.3m con­tri­bu­tion to the North­ern Ire­land econ­omy, with most of it ben­e­fit­ing Mid Ul­ster.

Philip Hill said: “In the next five to 10 years our am­bi­tion is to grow our trans­port and lo­gis­tic ca­pac­ity year on year, both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

He said the lo­ca­tion of the busi­ness is cru­cial to its con­tin­u­ing suc­cess. “We see the ex­ports as a key part of our busi­ness and a gen­uine real op­por­tu­nity for growth. The ex­port sales are al­most ex­clu­sively to south­ern Ire­land.”

How­ever the com­pany is eye­ing more in­ter­na­tional ex­ports for its grow­ing bed­ding busi­ness. Like many lo­gis­tics firms, Cap­per has been as­sess­ing how its busi­ness will look af­ter Brexit. “The big­gest con­cern around Brexit is the un­cer­tainty. We have spent time with our key ad­vis­ers look­ing at pos­si­ble out­comes of how that may look. Like most haulage com­pa­nies we have a num­ber of non-lo­cal driv­ing em­ploy­ees. We have seen an exit across the in­dus­try of driv­ers from Eastern Europe for ex­am­ple, elect­ing to move to Euro-zone coun­tries where they can earn Euro.

“That’s go­ing to be a con­tin­ual chal­lenge, but un­til we know what the de­tail looks like, it’s very dif­fi­cult to ar­tic­u­late how we are go­ing to re­act.”

Ex­ports are a key part our busi­ness and a real op­por­tu­nity for growth

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Cap­per Trad­ing, Philip Hill (left), at the com­pany’s base near Dun­gan­non.

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