Belfast Telegraph

Soft drink plant shut with loss of 12 jobs

Twelve people are to lose their jobs after the closure of a soft drinks distribution plant in Co Tyrone.

Nine people will be made redundant from Britvic's centre in Omagh in March, while three face the axe at the firm's offices on the Castlereagh Road in Belfast.

The Omagh business will transfer to the Castlereagh Road and 91 people will remain employed with the company, a spokeswoman for the firm said.

Britvic Ireland said the losses follow a review of commercial operations prompted by a "dramatically altered" soft drinks market.

The company said that approximately 100 redundancies are being sought in Ireland.

Andrew Richards, managing director of Britvic Ireland, said the changes were due to a "much-altered market".

"This is critical given a structural shift in the market over the past three years that has included volume growth in the grocery channel and contraction in the licensed and impulse categories," he said.

"I very much regret the unavoidable loss of jobs and I am grateful to departing staff for their contribution over the years.

"Britvic management will remain actively engaged with staff and their union representatives as these changes are implemented."

Thomas Buchanan, DUP MLA for West Tyrone, said he was disappointed by the move.

"This announcement has implications for the rates-base of the local council and the closure of the Britvic facility will have a negative knock-on effect for the local economy," he said.

Last month it emerged that Britvic was counting the cost of its expansion into Ireland three years earlier as it recorded bottom-line losses of €57m and saw its shares slide by 8%.

The move halved the value of the group's Irish business, C-amp;C Soft Drinks, which it paid around €250m for in 2007, when it first entered the country.

It said the economic problems in Ireland led to consumers being more cautious and spending less on drinks. However, Britvic said it has invested €7.5m in its manufacturing capacity in Dublin and €10m in new IT systems as well as opening a new customer call centre in Thurles, Co Tipperary.