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€12m food plant to create 85 jobs

The opening of a new £10m (€12m) food company plant in Co Tyrone will create 85 news jobs, the North's Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced.

The state-of-the-art retail packing and product development facilities in Dungannon will boost Linden Foods' competitive position in the meat processing sector.

While the company has invested £10m, Invest NI has offered £497,000, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The 85 jobs will be created over the next three years, bringing Linden's total employment figure to 520.

The new 5,740 square metre premises are next to the company's main processing site and include an innovation centre incorporating a development kitchen as well as new preparation, production and dispatch areas.

The minister said: "The food industry is a key contributor to Northern Ireland's economy and one that has shown an impressive resilience to the economic downturn, better than virtually every other sector.

"The Focus on Food strategy launched earlier this year urges local companies to focus resources on innovation. Companies like Linden Foods are leading the way by investing in new technology and new product development for future growth."

Linden Foods hopes to increase sales by 32%, most of which will be in markets outside Northern Ireland.

Managing director Gerry Maguire said: "Linden Foods' business strategy remains focused on innovation. We are committed to providing our customers with a range of exciting new products that are well ahead of current trends within the food retailing sector.

"This new facility, which includes a dedicated development kitchen where new recipes can be trialled and crafted, is the next natural step for the company's growth and will allow us to bolster our position as market leader within the meat processing industry."

The company forms part of Linden Food Group which has a turnover in excess of £300m and employs 1,100 people on seven sites in the North, the Republic of Ireland and England.

Chairman Trevor Lockhart said: "This plant represents a significant investment by Linden Foods in our business in Ireland and underlines our commitment to both our customers and employees.

"By specifically dedicating resources towards infrastructure and the people needed to bring ideas to life, we are convinced we can underpin the future growth and profitability of our business."

PA Media