Almac tells Commons its new Dundalk office is 'safety net' in wake of Brexit's implications
Northern Ireland pharmaceutical firm Almac has said its decision to open premises in the Republic was a direct result of Brexit.
Almac, which is based in Craigavon, told a House of Commons committee that it had not been in a position to wait and see the outworkings of the UK departure from the EU.
The company had instead decided to open up a facility in Dundalk to provide reassurance to export customers that its access to the single market would continue following Brexit.
Company executive director Colin Hayburn told the NI Affairs Committee: "If the border turns into something of further hindrance to our work, then we would have to consider more operations being done in Dundalk."
But he said the firm would not be moving jobs from Craigavon. "It's to protect those jobs in Craigavon that we need to find solutions for the EU, which is why we need this facility in Dundalk."
He said the Dundalk facility was a "safety-net" for the company.
Almac announced last month that it will make a multi-million pound investment in the new facility at IDA Business Park in Dundalk. The expansion has been supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland, Ireland's inward investment promotion agency.
The Dundalk site will be used by Almac Pharma Services and Almac Clinical Services, both of which are registered to operate in the Republic of Ireland.
The investment by Almac followed plans to expand its operations at its global headquarters in Craigavon with the construction of a new laboratory and additional office facilities.
The company has said it will retain its headquarters in Craigavon - the location closely linked with company founder Sir Allen McClay.
But Mark O'Connell of inward investment advisers OCO Global said Almac's move would be followed by others.
Last month, he said he knew of around 12 who were "pondering similar hedging strategies".
"Almac is among over 150 indigenous Northern Ireland firms in the health life sciences space - which employ 7,500 people and export over £1bn. European regulation, access to skills and EU research and development funding is an even more important aspect of the single market which is in jeopardy, so I do not think this will be the last example from this sector."
Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the IDA, has said it will continue to target firms seeking continued access to the single market.