28/03/2008

Food Processing Sector Boosted

There was good news for the food processing sector in Co Fermanagh recently as NI Assembly Economy Minister Nigel Dodds announced an investment worth nearly £3 million in Enniskillen - and a £6 million investment in nearby Lisnaskea.

The Minister was on hand at the end of March to reveal the £2.9 million investment to expand operations at Kerry Foods in Enniskillen.

The expansion will provide 17 new jobs over the next two years and will bring total employment at the factory - which produces a range of ready meals for the UK and Irish Republic markets - to over 160.

Mr Dodds, commenting on the expansion, which follows a £7 million reinvestment by the Group at Enniskillen in 2005, said: "This is a clear endorsement by the company of its employees' capabilities and commitment to produce consistently high quality convenience foods for markets outside Northern Ireland."

Outlining the investment's objectives, Declan McKee, Operations Manager at Enniskillen, said: "This expansion will enable us to double production capacity to meet the fast growing demand for our existing Mattessons Fridge Raiders Chicken Bites, to introduce additional flavours to this range, and to produce two new ready-to-eat products.

"It will also involve measures, including the automation of the packing process and changes in the factory layout, to improve workflow that will strengthen our overall competitiveness."

Meanwhile, the Minister also revealed support for a £6million investment in Western Brand Poultry (NI) at Lisnaskea.

The investment is being made by Western Brand Poultry’s parent company, Western Brand Ltd, of Ballyhaunis, County Mayo and is being financially assisted by around £500,000 from Invest NI.

The Minister spoke during a visit to the Lisnakea plant where breaded chicken and egg products are processed for its parent company and other customers in the Irish Republic and the UK.

Minister Dodds said: "Western Brand, a family-owned business in the Irish Republic, has already invested substantially in the local business, creating 86 new jobs, since acquiring the former Moy Park operation in Lisnaskea in December 2006.

"This £6 million investment not only provides an important boost to the economy of County Fermanagh, but will also assist the development of the local food industry, one of our most successful sectors, particularly for markets outside Northern Ireland."

Commenting on the investment in Lisnaskea, Eugene Lannon, Managing Director of Western Brand said: "Acquiring the Lisnaskea plant enabled us to gain suitable facilities and skilled employees when we needed to replace capacity, following the loss of our breading plant at Ballyhaunis, due to a fire in July 2006.

"We looked at a number of possible locations, including Lisnaskea, and opted to invest there," he explained.

(BMcC)

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