Irish chicken processor Manor Farm plans to spend €25 million over the next five years to expand its facility in Shercock, Co Cavan.
This will result in the creation of 600 new jobs and boost the company’s output of processed chickens from 900,000 a week to 1.5 million.
Owned by Carton Brothers, Manor Farm currently employs 824 staff at its premises in Shercock, a nearby feed mill and its head office in Clonee, Co Meath. The company had turnover last year of €249 million, of which 90 per cent was spent in the Republic.
In a wide-ranging interview in Business This Week, the company’s managing director and co-owner Vincent Carton said it wants to increase sales of Manor Farm-branded products from 7 per cent of turnover currently to 10 or 11 per cent over three years.
It has already launched cook-in-the-bag products in SuperValu and Dunnes Stores. “It’s about trying to convince the retailers to take it in and that’s the hard part,” Mr Carton said.
The rest of Manor Farm’s sales are own-label products for supermarkets, who prefer to sell chickens using their own brands with a picture or name of the farmer displayed prominently to prove its origin.
Mr Carton also revealed that the 241-year-old chicken business might not pass to the next generation of the family.
Mr Carton and his brother Justin are the eighth generation of Cartons to own and run the chicken company. Between them, they have eight daughters – the youngest doing her Leaving Cert – and Mr Carton accepts that none of them might want to run Manor Farm when the time comes to pass on the baton.
But the brothers would like the next generation to run a family business and have set up an entity called Carton Sisters to invest in various food products.
“One of our jobs in the next number of years is to bring on the next generation,” he said. “It might not be in chicken but I don’t see that as a problem. What they’ve indicated to us is that they’d certainly like to develop a food business but maybe not commodity chicken. They would much prefer to be involved in the health and wellness space.”
The plan is for capital to be freed up from the successful chicken business to invest in other food products. The company has already begun trialling “Proper Pops”, a healthy snack that has been developed as an alternative to crisps.
As part of its succession planning, the Cartons were co-founders of the Family Business Network in Ireland. Set up three years ago, it currently has 40 family businesses as members sharing information and experiences, and the plan is to grow it to about 150 families.
For now, the brothers will continue to own and operate the business but Mr Carton is open to bringing his daughters and nieces in as shareholders over time. He is also open-minded to management possibly taking on the business in the longer term.
“We have succession planning within the business and we have a really good management team who are well able to run this business and take over my job. I’d get as much kick out of seeing them developing the business as I would my own family.”
Source: The Irish Times