Belfast Telegraph

First company plans move to Ballymena Michelin site 'manufacturing hub'

By John Mulgrew

The former Michelin site in Ballymena is being transformed into a new hub for manufacturing firms and it's understood at least one company is to move to the site in the coming months.

Michelin's announcement in 2015 that it was to close its plant was the second setback for the town's economy after plans to close the JTI Gallaher cigarette factory, where 800 people were employed, were revealed the previous year.

Last year, commercial property firm CBRE held an event to allow the public and developers the chance to discuss ideas on the future use of the premises.

It's understood Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's chief executive, Anne Donaghy, is among those who have developed a plan to use the site as a manufacturing base for a series of firms.

It's also believed that a window and door manufacturer is due to set up production at the site soon.

According to the Ballymena Guardian, a deal to take on the site is currently being worked out, and it could also include the possibility of creating office space.

A spokesman for the council said: "Michelin has outlined its desire to create a lasting legacy in Ballymena, which will continue to benefit our citizens and the economy of our borough for generations to come.

"Any queries regarding the future of the Michelin site should be directed to the firm."

The firm announced it was shutting down in Ballymena this year due to a fall in demand for its truck tyres and the growth of competition from Chinese imports.

Elsewhere, Wrightbus is planning to redevelop the site left behind by JTI Gallaher after it shut its doors.

The bus manufacturer bought the site in 2016 and now has plans to redevelop the site's car park to extend it further.

But earlier this week it emerged that the Ballymena firm is starting a consultation process on cutbacks which could see 95 staff losing their jobs.

Wrightbus chairman Mark Nodder said that the firm, "along with the rest of the industry, is facing some very difficult conditions in its domestic market at present, with current order intake for new vehicles at relatively low levels".

The company currently employs around 1,700 workers.

Belfast Telegraph

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