THE opening of a near £100 million (€120m) Coca-Cola manufacturing plant in Co Antrim will yield long-term economic benefits for the North, political leaders claimed.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the Lisburn plant safeguarded hundreds of jobs after a lengthy negotiation to secure the business.
But Mr McGuinness denied the announcement was a blow to Coca-Cola employees in the Republic.
Mr Robinson said: “In choosing to locate this £93m facility in Northern Ireland, Coca-Cola is making clear its long-term commitment to this region.
“Invest Northern Ireland negotiated for two years to secure this multi-million pound project which has safeguarded almost 400 jobs.
“This site will now demonstrate internationally the strength of the local food and drink sector and our world-class manufacturing capabilities.”
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland is part of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, the world’s largest producer of Coca- Cola branded beverages with a presence in 28 countries, employing 45,000 people and serving 560 million consumers.
In 2005, Invest Northern Ireland announced it had secured the project with an offer of support of £6.75m.
Mr McGuinness said: “As Coca-Cola’s all-Ireland manufacturing and bottling plant, this state of the art facility now employs in the region of 600 people ina key industry sector.”
Asked if the jobs boost for Lisburn hit employees in the south, Mr McGuinness said: “Obviously large multi-national companies make their own economic decisions and particularly now at a time of particular economic hardship we have seen a decision taken to centralise all of their Ireland operations here in Co Antrim, in Lisburn.
“I think that’s obviously a very positive development from our point of view in terms of developing the economy and providing much needed employment.
“This is a facility which is going to support the employment of people in thisarea which is very, very important.”
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