The company yesterday announced it is to close production lines at its plant in Nenagh and instead consolidate jobs at its plants in Kent in England and Hunt Valley in the US.
Tipperary TD Micheal Lowry described the decision as “a body blow” to the local economy, and said it was particularly hard to take as the jobs were going to Britain, given all the political rhetoric that Ireland would gain jobs as a result of Brexit, not lose them.
Staff were told at a meeting that there would be no immediate redundancies and the jobs would be phased out by the end of 2018.
A Coty statement said it proposes “to consolidate our cosmetics operations into two core centres, which will result in the closure of the Nenagh plant”.
Nenagh plant manager Juan Miguel Pancheo said that the company is “committed to fully supporting” the employees and their families.
Company sources said Coty is seeking an estimated 900 redundancies across its global operations.
The source said: “Basically, the bottom line is that it wasn’t cost-effective to produce in Nenagh.
“They put a graph in front of [the Nenagh employees] and said, per unit it’s cheaper to produce at their plant in Ashford in Kent. They are also closing down some of the UK plants.
“They didn’t say [how many redundancies] overall.”
In response, a Coty spokesperson stated: “Our priority is always to speak to employees first and Coty will not be commenting further on which sites are affected.
“We can confirm that today we began to share with employees some proposed changes to parts of our international manufacturing footprint.
“These proposals, subject to board approval, are a result of a detailed study of our global manufacturing capacities and capabilities for each of our divisions following the merger with P&G Speciality Beauty brands and with the objective to enable our future growth.”
The Nenagh plant was sold to Coty by Procter & Gamble last year for €11.3bn.
Workers said they were negotiating initial redundancy terms agreed under P&G, of six weeks’ pay per year of service, plus two weeks’ statutory.
Visiting the Nenagh factory yesterday, Mr Lowry, an Independent TD, said the consolidation of jobs to Coty’s plant in Kent was surprising given political rhetoric “that Ireland will gain opportunities [under Brexit]”.
“What has surprised me is that the [Nenagh] jobs are actually going to the UK; I would have never thought that the UK were that more competitive than we are in Ireland,” said Mr Lowry.
He described the factory closure as “a body blow” to the local economy, which he said would lose out on an estimated €15m annually.
Local Labour TD Alan Kelly said that efforts are already under way to try to create alternative employment at the Nenagh plant after it closes.
Pauline Walsh has worked at the Coty plant, formerly Protector & Gamble, in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, for 23 years.
Ms Walsh, aged 50, explained how the news that the plant is to close, with the loss of all 200 jobs, could not have come at a worse time for her and her family.
“I’m getting married in August and I’ve two daughters — one is 20 and I have a 12-year-old who I still have to put through college,” she said.
“There are big changes coming for me now. I’m worried, there’s no question I’m worried; I’m that bit older and it’s going to be harder for me to get a job.”
Ms Walsh described the announcement as a “blow” for hundreds of families.
“It’s a huge blow for the town; there’s no major employers in Nenagh anymore. It was pumping a lot of money into the town every year.”
Co-worker John Sheehy, from Ballina, has worked for Coty for 15 years.
He said staff were negotiating similar redundancy terms to those previously agreed under P&G.
“We have already negotiated a redundancy package of six weeks’ pay per year of service, plus two weeks’ statutory,” he said. “We may be able to negotiate better.”
Mr Sheehy said the mood among staff was predominantly one of anger.
He said: “Some people have mortgages, some have children, so they’re obviously distraught and angry and disappointed.”
Ms Walsh described the mood inside the factory when management delivered the bad news as devastating.
“It’s a tough time for me, but I’m [healthy],” he said. :That’s the most important thing and you have to be positive. I’ve had 23 good years here for which I’m eternally grateful. I feel very sorry for the others too. It’s very tough for a lot of people.”
Ms Walsh called on the Government to step in and help promote the plant to other employers in the hope of securing future jobs.
“I would like to see the Government intervening in some form to try and save it because the loss to the town is huge, absolutely huge,” he said.
In its heyday the plant, under the ownership of P&G, employed up to 650 people.
Acknowledging the two companies’ roles in providing the town with jobs, Ms Walsh said: “I have to say that Proctor & Gamble was a fantastic company to work for the last 22 years.
“I have nothing bad to say about (P&G), and Coty is doing what it has to do for its business, I suppose.”
Closing the factory’s turnstiles behind her and walking to her car, Ms Walsh added: “It’s sad. It’s a sad day for Nenagh. That’s it.”