Tyrone Crystal closes with the loss of 31 jobs
The iconic Tyrone Crystal factory – one of Northern Ireland’s flagship industries – will close today with the loss of 31 jobs.
The shutters were down on the Tyrone Crystal shop on Royal Avenue, Belfast, yesterday
The company, which has been trading for almost 40 years, will shut after last-ditch attempts to find a new buyer for the brand failed.
In a statement Tyrone Crystal said it would be entering “an orderly winding down period of its factory processes”.
Established in 1971, it became a global ambassador for Irish craftsmanship, but has been hit by the recession and changing tastes.
Attempts were made to seek a buyer but the company said there had been no interest in acquiring it as a going concern.
Claire Bradley, sales manager at Tyrone Crystal, said the economic downturn had dealt a major blow.
“I’m gutted,” she said. “The unfortunate thing is that crystal-ware itself is a luxury item. The way of the economy means people don’t have as much disposable income and it’s a reflection of how things are in the world.”
Economist John Simpson said Tyrone Crystal had been in difficulty over the last 20 years.
“Gradually, slowly but surely, the market for that type of product, at the price they can make it at, was diminishing,” he said.
“They employed nearly 300 people about 10 years ago, so the tide has been turning against them.
“The other example on this island, Waterford Crystal, has also suffered and much of the crystal is now made at cheaper labour costs and cheaper prices.”
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, who is an MLA for the area, said the closure was “a dreadful blow” to the Tyrone economy.
“Tyrone Crystal is not just a manufacturer, it is an iconic brand that has attracted tourism interest,” she said. “It has also made a positive contribution to the wider economy.”
A redundancy clinic will be held today to inform staff of their options.
The area’s MP, Michelle Gildernew, is also seeking an urgent meeting with management and staff to discuss the next step.
“We’ve all got a piece of crystal, it’s something we’ve bought for wedding presents and special occasions,” she said.
“I will cherish the crystal I have at home now because I know that will be the end of crystal produced here by people who have been part of keeping the crystal brand going for decades.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said he was “deeply saddened”, adding the company’s closure was an “unfortunate sign of the times”.
“Tyrone Crystal has helped put Dungannon on the map for 40 years now and brought a sense of pride to many Tyrone residents, especially when they saw an item of crystal on display far from Dungannon,” he said.
DUP MLA Maurice Morrow called on the Government to help the workforce acquire new skills and employment opportunities.
“I would urge the Minister for Employment and Learning to act quickly on this front,” he said.