Coca-Cola plant will bring benefits
The opening of a near £100 million Coca-Cola manufacturing plant in Co Antrim will yield long-term economic benefits for Northern Ireland, political leaders claim.
First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the Lisburn plant safeguarded hundreds of jobs after a lengthy negotiation to secure the business.
But Mr McGuinness denied the announcement was a blow to Coca-Cola employees in the Republic.
Mr Robinson said: "In choosing to locate this £93 million facility in Northern Ireland, Coca-Cola is making clear its long-term commitment to this region.
"Invest Northern Ireland negotiated for two years to secure this multi-million pound project which has safeguarded almost 400 jobs.
"This site will now demonstrate internationally the strength of the local food and drink sector and our world-class manufacturing capabilities."
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland is part of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, the world's largest producer of Coca-Cola branded beverages with a presence in 28 countries, employing 45,000 people and serving 560 million consumers.
In 2005, Invest Northern Ireland announced that it had secured the project with an offer of support totalling £6.75 million.
Mr McGuinness said: "As Coca-Cola's all-Ireland manufacturing and bottling plant, this state of the art facility now employs in the region of 600 people in a key industry sector, across a range of skilled roles.
"With the relocation of key operations now complete, all Coca-Cola products sold in Ireland will be made here in Lisburn, a fact which can only continue to deliver long-term economic benefits."