Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Drive to boost Limavady's economy through complex

The Seagate plant closed in 2008 with the loss of up to 1,000 jobs
The Seagate plant closed in 2008 with the loss of up to 1,000 jobs

Businesses are still being sought to occupy a business centre on the site of the former Seagate plant in Limavady.

There was shock when the plant closed in 2008 with the loss of up to 1,000 jobs, but in 2011 the Tuscan group, a conglomerate of just over 20 people with backgrounds in various business sectors, bought the facility for less than the asking price of £1.3m.

Seagate took over the use of the base in Limavady in 1996, three years after Seagate's Londonderry operation was launched, and was the borough's largest employer a decade before the factory was closed and production shifted to a plant in Malaysia.

The facility had manufactured nickel plated aluminum substrates – the base platter on which magnetic materials are deposited for making hard drives.

Invest NI paid £11.16m from 1999 on to Seagate towards the costs of the factory, of which £7.9m was repaid in April 2009.

The site at Aghanloo was taken over by the Limavady Gear Company in 2009, which eventually went into administration in October 2010 with the loss of up to 30 jobs.

Currently there is one tenant at the Dowland Road complex, which comprises a 200,000 sq ft building with 21,600sq ft of office and laboratory space and 17 acres of land.

The main factory has a total of around 95,000sq ft of production floor space in total.

A spokesman for the Tuscan group said that he would be keen for more companies to relocate to the north west.

"The Limavady area has suffered with the loss of firms like Seagate, Huco and the Limavady Gear Company," he said.

"We want to provide a base for Northern Ireland firms, particularly in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, to base themselves at the factory, which has excellent facilities, and help kick-start the local economy.

"We understand that progress is slow, as these are tough times and few want to take the plunge with a new firm, but we have some well-qualified engineers, and skilled graduates coming out of the North West Regional Colleges from campuses in Londonderry and Limavady and this could be the ideal launchpad."

Just months before the Limavady closure, Seagate Technology announced a £120m investment in its Springtown plant in Londonderry.

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