30/09/2008

Jobs On The Agenda For NI

Hundreds of jobs are to be created in Northern Ireland by supermarket giant Tesco once their plan to extend an existing store at Knocknagoney Road in east Belfast reaches fruition.

Tesco is aiming to open its first non-food hypermarket in the province.

The new 'Extra' store will be located beside its existing superstore at Knocknagoney Road in east Belfast later this year, said the firm.

The company said that a total of 350 jobs are to be created this year across Northern Ireland, both through the store development and via increased use of locally based suppliers into their national supply chain.

East Belfast DUP MLA, Robin Newton, a member of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee, (pictured) said the expansion at Tesco on the already operating and successful site at Knocknagoney are very welcome.

"The plan by Tesco to create an additional 350 jobs across Northern Ireland is goods news in this current very difficult economic climate.

"Knocknagoney is a lucrative trading site for the supermarket giant and the already underway expansion are evidence of the store's success.

"This good news story is a tribute to the workforce and I feel certain the additional staff taken on will further enhance the well-being of Tesco and secure an even brighter future for the site and make-safe the employee's jobs."

The announcement was made as Tesco - in a recession-busting piece of market news - bucked the trend and announced a 14.1% increase in sales for the first half of the year to £28.1 billion - delivering an underlying pre-tax profit of £1.4m.
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Government jobs are also in the news with a high level report advocating that as many as 4,000 civil service jobs should be relocated away from Belfast.

An independent review of the public sector has today recommended that public sector jobs should be spread more evenly throughout the region and has earmarked the towns of Ballymena, Coleraine, Craigavon, Londonderry, Newry and Omagh as potential locations.

The report, compiled by Professor Sir George Bain, proposed that a number of organisations be moved from east Belfast, the most high-profile of which is the Government's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is based near Stormont.

Other bodies that could potentially be relocated include the new Victims and Survivors Commission, the Regional Health and Social Care Board, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Land & Property services and the headquarters of Northern Ireland Water, which is in the north end of central Belfast.

Unveiling his recommendations in Belfast, Professor Bain said: "Above all else, we believe there should be better economic balance in Northern Ireland, and this is at the heart of our recommendation that there should be some relocation of public sector jobs.

"However, we have also concluded that any movement of jobs should be taken forward in a modest and prudent manner, and that it should be introduced on a phased basis."

Under Professor Bain's proposals, a total of between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs would be relocated in the first five years of the project.

The NI Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew said it made "absolute sense" for her Department to be relocated: "We need to be as close to the people we serve as possible, and to the heart of the community. I want to work as closely as we can with the rural community."

(BMcC)

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