ALMOST 50 staff are to lose their jobs with the closure of a lamb slaughtering plant in the south east.
Meat processing giant Kepak Group has confirmed its abattoir, which has been operating at Hacketstown, Co Carlow, since 1986, is to cease operations from March 6 next.
Concerns had been raised over the future of the plant, which supplies lamb products mainly to the French market, in recent months as the company carried out a review of the cost stuctures at the plant.
Company bosses confirmed they had discussed a number of options and kept its 49 staff informed but no commercially sustainable solution was found.
It confirmed that staff "willing to relocate" would be offered work at its other operations. The firm employs over 1,700 people in its six Irish manufacturing sites and in its supporting sales and marketing functions.
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said the closure could impact upon prices paid for lambs at the factory gate.
"Sheep farmers are very disappointed with the decision to close the Hacketstown plant, with the resulting loss in slaughtering capacity and competition," an IFA spokesman said.