SME

Published: June 4, 2021 | Updated: February 7, 2022

Poultry specialist carves out a large slice of the market with plans to boost turnover to £30m

Paul Draper, Founder, draperGROUP: “What we’re doing is creating the optimum environment for the rearing of poultry.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

The figure is pretty staggering.

One billion chickens – known as broilers – bred and raised annually for meat production in the UK.

Many are housed in poultry sheds with approximately 5,000 in the UK.

And about 20 per cent of those sheds rely on a Dorset-based company for their ventilation, feeding and heating.

draperGROUP, and its eight component businesses, most notably draperVENT, has carved out a sizeable chunk of a large, and expanding market.

It was founded in 1995 by Paul Draper to sell and install ventilation systems in poultry broiler and free-range layer houses throughout the country.

The company now designs, develops and installs its own unique de-humidification, heating and ventilation systems for bespoke buildings used in poultry farming.

Annual turnover increased ten-fold – from £1.05m to £10.2m – between 2009 and 2019.

It’s now on course for annual sales of £13m with a five-year growth plan forecast to catapult that figure to £30m by 2024.

The company’s new £1.7m headquarters at Dorset Innovation Park, assisted by a £740,000 Growing Places Fund loan from Dorset LEP, is central to the expansion.

An existing 500 m² building is to be extensively refurbished to include education, training, research and innovation facilities as well as administration offices.

Meanwhile a brand new 1,250 m² building will provide a demonstration showroom and test area for large equipment together with light manufacturing and assembly and storage and distribution.

draperGROUP say that apart from boosting turnover, productivity and profit, its new HQ:

  • Centralises its key workforce in Dorset, previously spread across the UK.
  • Allows for further development of its existing product range with more innovation.
  • Enables the sourcing of local and in-house manufacture of key system components currently imported from EU.
  • Offers local recruitment and the implementation of apprenticeship schemes to create new jobs within its existing structure.

To steer the company’s growth and allow Paul to concentrate on innovation – “what I do best and love” – Matt West joined earlier this year as Managing Director.

Paul, 50, pictured, said: “These are genuinely exciting times for the business.

“Essentially what we’re doing is creating the optimum environment for the rearing of poultry.

“It’s all about efficiency and getting the right balance of heating, lighting, ventilation and feeding.

“There is huge potential for us as a business and these new facilities in Dorset put us in the best possible position to make the most of the opportunities.”

Dorset’s agri-tech sector is worth more than £108m and the county’s Local Industrial Strategy has identified it as a high-growth area.

Apart from draperVENT, other companies forming part of draperGROUP are:

  • draperHEAT – hot water engineering
  • draperLAYERS – complete commercial and breeder layer solutions
  • draperTECH – engineering excellence
  • draperCARE – poultry expertise and mentoring
  • draperBIOTECH – air, feed and water purification
  • Agritas – innovative solutions
  • draperRACING – racing team

Paul, a self-confessed ‘petrolhead’ and pictured with one of the draperRACING cars, said draperGROUP currently employed 32 staff with more jobs set to be created as the company’s growth plans are rolled out.

He added: “The future looks excellent.

“Our new Dorset site is just perfect for putting our plans into action.”