Belfast Telegraph

Coca-Cola site sold to Northern Ireland manufacturer for new business base

Mark Robinson, group commercial director, and Roger Pannell, managing director of Unicorn Group
Mark Robinson, group commercial director, and Roger Pannell, managing director of Unicorn Group

By John Mulgrew

A Co Antrim manufacturer is set to build and develop a new business base after buying a former Coca-Cola site outside Lisburn.

The huge 17.5 acre site, which was on the market for £3.75m, was bought by Unicorn Group.

The company manufactures a range of goods, from medical and recycling bins to PVC floor tiles.

The business, which already has sites in Lisburn, and Markethill in Co Armagh, has grown sales by more than 40% in the last two years.

It employs around 74 staff across its three Northern Ireland businesses. But the company says it has also “recently recruited multi-lingual employees for its business development, sales, marketing and product development teams”.

It’s currently hiring five new roles.

Over the next six months the company also says it plans to “relocate its head office and existing manufacturing sites in Lisburn and Markethill to the new location”.

The former Coca-Cola site was officially opened in 1968 by Captain Terence O’Neill, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

The factory was one of two plants used by the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company to produce the drink in Ireland, until all production was moved in 2008 to a larger facility on a 45-acre site at Knockmore Hill, Lisburn.

The site was originally placed on the market back in 2015.

Roger Pannell, managing director of Unicorn Group, said the company is now “growing our existing facilities and the Lambeg site is an opportunity for us to have all our business production and administration in one location”.

“This relocation has the added benefit of providing existing and new staff the opportunity to develop their careers within the expanded business,” he continued.

“We have strengthened our existing workforce recently with a recruitment drive and are excited about the future of our manufacturing operations in Northern Ireland.

“The hard work and dedication of our workforce has enabled us make this step. In addition to our own workforce, once the site is fully developed, we will be encouraging small and large businesses to join us at the refurbished business park which will further enhance jobs in the area.

“We’ve been acquiring businesses for the past 20 years and have focused on growing our business and manufacturing operations in Northern Ireland.

“Unicorn Group is actively looking for more businesses to acquire.”

It has plans to re-develop the 266,470 sq ft property into a “multi-purpose business, warehousing and manufacturing campus style business park opening the site up for rental opportunities to other businesses”, Mr Pannell added.

The former Coca-Cola site includes approximately 266,470 sq ft of industrial, storage and office buildings, together with canopied loading bays.

The buildings consist of quality warehousing with an eaves height of 7.3m, which interlinks with the former factory.

The property sits on the banks of the River Lagan, with a brick wall along the boundary. At the southern and eastern boundaries is a 25ft grass-bank that separates the site from the adjoining green fields.

The site includes the main warehouse, office and former production areas and a standalone warehouse surrounded by an extensive concreted open storage space, with an additional car parking area beyond.

A concrete road network runs around the main buildings leading to and from the entrance and exit points off Tullynacross Road.

Belfast Telegraph