Boss of Northern Ireland pharma giant Norbrook calls for Brexit clarity after reporting £50.2m profit
The boss of Newry firm Norbrook has said he would welcome the UK staying in the customs union following Brexit, as the veterinary pharmaceutical giant's operating profits rose by £11.7m.
Norbrook, which has its headquarters in the Co Down town, recorded a turnover of £272m, up by £33m, in its results for the year up to July 31.
The company was founded by the late Eddie Haughey - later Lord Ballyedmond - 46 years ago.
He was killed in a helicopter crash in 2014 and his family now owns the business.
Chief executive Liam Nagle, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after Norbrook reported an operating profit of £50.2m, said he hoped to see progress on talks between the UK and EU on how the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would work post-Brexit.
He added: "We need clarity, and the longer that any business does not have clarity, it creates ambiguity. That creates issues for all of us.
"But the focus needs to be on economic prosperity, both for businesses and the people."
Norbrook Holdings currently employs around 2,000 people worldwide, with 1,800 of those jobs based in Newry.
Mr Nagle insisted the company had no plans to move away from its current headquarters after Brexit and said the firm was to invest a further £16m in the business, despite uncertainty over the EU divorce.
The DUP blocked a deal reportedly agreed between the UK and the EU on Monday that could have seen no regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said she would not accept any agreement "which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom".
Mr Nagle admitted that the UK remaining in the customs union would solve a lot of issues for businesses planning for the future.
"I don't think that when the UK voted to leave the European Union that people voted to leave the customs union as well," he said.
"That is an issue that still needs to be resolved.
"If the UK was to stay within the customs union, I think it would resolve a lot of the issues that people are trying to deal with in terms of phase one and phase two of the European negotiations.
"It would really eliminate a lot of discussion on borders and it would bring clarity to the situation very quickly."
Mr Nagle added the company would continue to focus on making products for farm animals and said he expected to see continuing growth for the firm in the US market.
The company invested £16.4m in the business this year, bringing the total investment over the last two years to more than £26m.
Norbrook also launched three new products last year, which helped drive business in the US, resulting in 17% growth.
Mr Nagle said: "This was a solid year for us. We invested significantly in the business with a second new laboratory facility, upgrades to and expansion of our manufacturing capability and continued investment in our IT infrastructure.
"We further strengthened our portfolio with three new products. Carprofen Chewable Tablets for dogs in the US, in particular, supports our business growth plans in this significant market.
"New product development is a key growth driver for us going forward and we continue to work closely with our customers to identify new opportunities.
"We are very confident in our plans for the future and our portfolio."