180 jobs go as M&S to shut Ulster warehouse
AROUND 180 jobs could be lost in Co Antrim after Marks & Spencer unveiled plans to consolidate 110 UK warehouses into three 'super-hubs'.
The workers are employed by distribution company DHL – which manages and operates the store's warehouse operation at the Hyde Park distribution centre in Newtownabbey – and look set to lose their jobs by the beginning of next year.
M&S currently has 110 warehouses across the UK but plans in future to store products in three massive facilities in Bradford, Castle Donington, and a new site in London.
Around 355 currently work at the Hyde Park site, working in warehousing, cross-docking – moving consignments from one lorry to another – and repricing whereby they change sterling prices to euro for stores in the Republic of Ireland.
Three quarters of the 275 permanent DHL employees with general warehouse duties are set to lose their jobs.
The cross-docking and repricing facilities will remain.
A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said that the company proposes reorganising its supply network but said that there would be no impact on how M&S sources or delivers products.
He claimed that the new system would be more beneficial for customers and ensure better product availability.
A number of Northern Ireland firms, including Co Down meat company Finnebrogue, supplies M&S.
South Antrim DUP MLA Trevor Clarke (below) said the job losses would be damaging to the local economy.
"This news will have come as a shock to employees and they are now facing the uncertainty of not knowing if they will still have a job by the end of the year," he said.
"I will be contacting Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to urge them to speak with Marks and Spencer and see what can be done to minimise the job losses or preferably reverse the decision completely and keep their distribution centre in Northern Ireland."
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan added: "It is essential the Executive does all in its power to mitigate these job losses."
It has been a bad news day for M&S staff in the Republic too. The retailer said that shops in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Naas, Co Kildare, and Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire, both in Co Dublin, were unprofitable and would close in the coming weeks resulting in 180 redundancies. But it added it had agreed plans for a new "flagship" store in Limerick that would create 250 jobs.