Apple eyes expansion of key Irish operation
US tech giant Apple is examining a major expansion of its key Irish plant just months after completing a massive €300m development.
If sanctioned, the latest expansion is expected to deliver a multi-million euro boost to the Cork construction sector and generate hundreds of new jobs.
Apple is struggling to cope with surging global demand for its products, ranging from iPods and iPads to iPhones and Apple Watches.
The firm already employs more than 4,000 people in Ireland and its Cork plant in Hollyhill is considered the most important outside of its Cupertino base in California.
Along with fellow tech giant EMC, which employs more than 3,000 staff in Cork, Apple is the biggest employer in the south.
The Cork operation provides specialised manufacturing and is also the largest Apple sales and services support network outside of California.
Apple invested €300m in its 34-year-old plant 18 months ago and has also leased space in two major Cork city centre office blocks.
It is understood the latest expansion involves Apple developing a plant extension into a Cork County Council land bank which has, for the past 20 years, operated as a Traveller halting site.
The most ambitious plan involves a near doubling of Apple's available factory space, but a smaller expansion is also being considered.
Apple has already committed to a €850m data centre in Galway which will ultimately create 100 new IT jobs.
The investments are seen as proof of the firm's long-term commitment to Ireland, despite controversies last year in the US and UK over its Irish tax affairs.
It is an incredible turnaround for a firm that, just a decade ago, had major doubts over the future of its entire Irish operation.
Apple arrived in Ireland in 1981.