Belfast Telegraph

Brexit and Stormont blamed as building firm plans to axe 45 jobs

Decision: Raymond Acheson
Decision: Raymond Acheson
Margaret Canning

BY Margaret Canning

A construction firm in Co Londonderry has blamed Brexit and the lack of an Executive over a plan to close a plant with the loss of up to 45 jobs.

Acheson and Glover said it was now consulting with its workforce over the job losses should it go ahead with the closure of a precast plant in Magherafelt.

The proposal was "directly linked" to delays or cancellations of UK building projects in the wake of the referendum to leave the EU, and a lack of capital spending at home due to the absence of an Executive, the firm said.

There had been a slump in orders for some of its flooring and precast stairs "as a result of uncertainty in the marketplace driven by Brexit".

The firm - which employs nearly 400 people across all its divisions - said it is considering consolidating manufacturing at its plant in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone. Its precast division employs 162 altogether.

AG chief executive Raymond Acheson said the plants had been running at 60% capacity and with reduced orders in the pipeline, it was more practical to run just one factory at full capacity.

"It is vital for the wider business that we control our costs and restructure so we can adapt to market conditions and capitalise on increased demand for other products," he said.

"Our people are the very heart of our business so the proposal to consolidate precast manufacturing at Ballygawley has only been made after lengthy consideration.

"We fully understand how difficult this will be for our colleagues and we want to assure everyone potentially impacted that we will do our very best to support them through this process.

"While we are open to proposals that can address the ongoing challenges faced by our precast division we feel it is important to initiate these formal consultations immediately.

"The downturn in demand for these particular products can be directly linked to major UK building projects being axed or delayed since the Brexit referendum and the ongoing lack of local government holding back capital investment in Northern Ireland."

Mr Acheson said up to 45 jobs would be hit. He said the firm had considered cutting back production on both sites. But he said maintaining just one site in Ballygawley was more efficient - adding that 10 new roles would be created at Ballygawley.

He said sales were still going up in other parts of the AG Group, which make paving, building and draining products. That could mean the creation of five new posts, he added.

Acheson and Glover is the latest company in Northern Ireland to announce job cuts, after Ballymena bus firm Wrightbus announced the potential loss of 95 posts on Monday.

Last week, oil services giant Schlumberger confirmed it would close in Newtownabbey with the loss of 205 jobs. Also, 145 jobs were axed after Mallusk firm Williams Industrial Services went into administration.

Belfast Telegraph