Fears for 50 jobs at Kerry Group's Listowel plant

Kerry Group Director of Corporate Affairs Frank Hayes.
Kerry Group Director of Corporate Affairs Frank Hayes.

Donal Nolan

INTERNATIONAL food giant Kerry Group is considering moving part of its Listowel operation to a sister plant in the UK in a move that could cost jobs in north Kerry.

It is feared locally that up to 50 Listowel jobs are at risk under a cost-cutting review the company is carrying out of its butter spreads and margarine production.

A spokesperson for Kerry Group confirmed that the review is underway but said no decision has yet been taken yet on the future of the spreads production in Listowel and it would be premature to talk about job losses.

Workers at the plant were informed last week of the review the company is carrying out in tandem with investment at a sister plant in the UK. The Kerryman understands Kerry Group is now deciding whether or not to move a Listowel production line supplying UK supermarkets with 'own brand' spreads in order to rationalise transport costs.

Kerry Group Director of Corporate Affairs Frank Hayes told The Kerryman that most of the base ingredients for these products are already being imported from the UK. Kerry Group is now deciding whether or not it would make more financial sense to simply move this production line to a plant in Yorkshire, closer to the source of the spread ingredients.

Key Kerry Group Irish brands, such as Dairygold and Kerrymaid, which are produced in Listowel will not be affected by any move.

"No decision has been taken on this, but it certainly wouldn't see as many as 50 jobs affected. That number is the entire workforce in that part of the plant producing the spreads and there's no questions of having these Irish brands like Dairygold, Low-Low and Kerrymaid manufactured anywhere other than in Ireland," Mr Hayes said.

He said the review of the production line comes as the company invests in its Yorkshire plant. "Workers in Listowel were appraised of the fact that we are investing in an upgrade of a sister plant in the UK as a result of which a review of the business in the Listowel plant is now going on. We are bringing raw materials into the Kerry plant from the UK and shipping them back again as finished products for the UK market."

Mr Hayes said this area of production supplies a number of leading UK supermarkets with spreads for their own labels. The current review is being conducted with the aim of minimising costs.

It is taking place at a time of continued growth for the multinational food giant which this week posted positive results suggesting the company is well on track towards meeting its financial targets for the year.

News of the review comes at a time of massive concern for the economy of north Kerry amid renewed fears over everything from the future of the proposed Shannon LNG project to the ability of small to medium businesses in the region to continue weathering the recession.


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