O'Neills to create 175 jobs with expansion of its Strabane manufacturing headquarters
Sportswear giant O'Neills is creating 175 jobs as part of a major expansion at its Co Tyrone base.
Planning approval granted by Derry City and Strabane District Council makes way for a new storage and distribution facility and factory shop complex at Dublin Road in Strabane to aid with the company's developing online business.
O'Neills, which is best known for its GAA kit, has established sales offices in Dublin, London and Belfast, while international sales offices have been opened in the US, France and Australia.
The new positions, to be created over a three-year period, are expected to generate an additional £26.7m in sales, and will also help safeguard the present workforce.
Now celebrating its centenary year, O'Neills Sports already employs nearly 600 people in Strabane, in addition to 100 who work at its Dublin site.
While the company started out manufacturing solely GAA jerseys, it has seen considerable development, particularly over the past 40 years, and is now the largest sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland.
The green light for the expansion was widely welcomed and viewed as a significant job boost for the Co Tyrone town, one of the UK's worst unemployment blackspots.
West Tyrone SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: "I am glad that Tyrone companies such as O'Neills are continuing to expand and increase employment and investment in the area.
"O'Neills is a major player in the town and across the north west.
"This is welcome news and I am delighted that there are 170 new jobs planned to add to their already almost 600-strong workforce.
"O'Neills have sent a strong message that they are open for business, that they are increasing investments and that they believe in the local skilled workforce.
"In a landscape of pressures and challenges, I am proud of local Tyrone companies who are at the forefront of innovation and are adapting to new and existing markets."
West Tyrone Sinn Fein MLA Michaela Boyle added: "The green light given for this application is fantastic news and will be of major direct and indirect economic benefit to the area.
"I would like to commend O'Neills for their long-term commitment to the town of Strabane.
"Not only are they a major employer, but are also very supportive of the local community with their charity work and sponsorship."
The news comes as the company announced a three-year sponsorship deal with the organisers of the Foyle Cup.
The O'Neills Foyle Cup will see 370 teams and over 6,500 players take part in a six-day festival of football throughout Derry, Strabane, Limavady, Coleraine and Donegal.
The tournament attracts teams such as Celtic, Hearts, Partick Thistle, Norwich City, and Sheffield United as well as clubs from Germany and the US.
No one from O'Neills was available for comment on its expansion plans.