Belfast Telegraph

Caterpillar reveals £2.6m losses as it assesses Brexit risk

By Margaret Canning

Generator manufacturer Caterpillar NI suffered a loss of £2.6m in 2015 after profits of £3.8m a year earlier, as it revealed it's set up a task force to assess the impact of Brexit on trade.

The former FG Wilson, which announced more than 200 job losses earlier this year, also reported a fall in turnover from £600m to £537m.

Its results also disclosed a fall in employment due to voluntary severance in the last quarter of the year, from 1,883 to 1,779.

And the number of generator sets it sold was down 40% from 20,541 to 12,306.

A strategic report filed with the accounts said the fall in turnover was down to tough global economic conditions and falling demand for electrical power products.

But it had managed to partly offset that fall in demand by growing sales of its articulated truck axles.

Caterpillar NI, based in Larne, also announced in September that it is to close its Monkstown plant, where the company began life as FG Wilson in 1966.

It is the latest of Northern Ireland's big manufacturers to report a loss in 2015.

Plane maker Bombardier, which employs 5,000 people, unveiled an operating loss of $280m (£194m) in its results for its Northern Ireland operation for 2015, again pointing to tough global conditions.

Caterpillar's report described Brexit as a potential risk for its future business.

"In June 2016, a UK referendum resulted in a vote for the country to leave the EU, and the associated uncertainty represents a challenge for UK businesses across all sectors.

"This uncertainty may lead to volatility in markets, with potential fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, interest rates and commodity prices."

But it said a team had been tasked ahead of the referendum to assess the impact of a Brexit vote, and was continuing in its work.

"The team continues to assess potential impacts across all aspects of our business, although with much still uncertain, precise assessments are challenging until full negotiations between the UK, EU and other countries begin."

Belfast Telegraph

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