Belfast Telegraph

Michelin 'not in talks' with distillery over use of its Ballymena site

By Margaret Canning

French tyre giant Michelin has said that it is not currently in discussions with the drinks firm Bushmills over future use of its site.

According to reports, Bushmills had visited the Ballymena site of Michelin with a view to using it when the company leaves in 2018.

But a spokeswoman for Michelin said: "Michelin is not in any ongoing discussions with Bushmills or any other company."

The firm announced in November that it would be withdrawing from Ballymena, with the loss of 860 jobs.

It pointed to falling sales and the high cost of doing business in Northern Ireland - particularly steep energy prices - as factors behind the decision.

It was another setback for Ballymena after tobacco giant JTI Gallaher's announced that it would be closing with the loss of around 500 jobs in 2017.

And the company spokeswoman said: "Michelin is currently going through a 90 day consultation period following the previous announcement that our Ballymena factory will be wound down in 2018.

"The focus of the business at this present moment in time is purely on the wellbeing of our staff and exploring all options to help them find new employment when the time comes."

DUP North Antrim MLA Ian Paisley said that JTI Gallaher's site on Galgorm Road had also received visits from companies interested in carrying out production on it.

He added: "I welcome the idea of any company expanding or opening in my constituency and I'd actively encourage anyone who's looking at either of these sites."

Bushmills - which is now owned by Jose Cuervo in Mexico - has filed a planning application for expansion of its existing site in the Co Antrim village.

Belfast Telegraph