Belfast Telegraph

Company to remain in Newry even if UK pulls out of EU

By Margaret Canning

Norbrook is opposed to Brexit, but would keep its extensive headquarters in Newry even if the UK left the EU, its chief executive has said.

Liam Nagle - in his first round of interviews after succeeding the late Lord Ballyedmond - said the firm's Newry facilities were too long-established to move them.

It has three sites in the city, where the bulk of the company's manufacturing is carried out.

The company boss, who succeeded Lord Ballyedmond last year, said a Brexit would cause major disruption to its operations.

With around 1,800 employees in Newry, it's the city's biggest employer.

Mr Nagle said: "First of all, we have to look at the facts - that 80% of our sales come from outside the UK and Ireland. And £50m of our sales come from EU members, and we are very dependent on free movement over the border.

"Hundreds of our workers commute over the border every day for work.

"And we buy about £30m in raw materials from EU countries."

But he said that the company's operations were so rooted in Newry - after being in existence for 46 years - that it would not be feasible to move.

"The company has been 46 years in the development in Newry. We operate in a very regulated industry, where bringing a new product to market in the EU takes three to six years, and in the US, it takes five to six years."

The development and investment in its facilities in Newry to meet those stringent regulations was too great for it to be possible to move, he said.

And he commented on the uncertainty around the Brexit referendum - which will take place on June 23. "Uncertainty is not good," Mr Nagle said.

He's the latest leader in big business to come out against a Brexit.

This week, Moy Park chief Janet McCollum joined major firms Montupet and fourth-generation agri-business merchant W&R Barnett in endorsing EU membership.

And William Barnett said the blame for 'red tape' usually attributed to the EU could equally be shouldered by local and national government.

But Dr Peter FitzGerald, head of medical testing firm Randox, was more ambivalent, describing it as a "complex issue" and "a decision for the British electorate".

£50m

Amount of Norbrook sales that come from members of the EU

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