Up to 45 jobs at risk at building contractor Acheson & Glover

AG chief executive Raymond Acheson said the comapny's plants at Ballygawley and Magherafelt have been running at 60 per cent capacity for some time
Gareth McKeown

UP to 45 jobs could be at risk at Co Tyrone building contractor AG (Acheson & Glover) after the company announced plans to cease precast concrete manufacturing at its Magherafelt plant.

AG, which employs over 400 people across the UK, has announced it is entering into a formal 30-day consultation process in regard to a management proposal to consolidate precast manufacturing to one plant at Ballygawley by the end of 2018.

The decision follows a review of the precast business over a nine month period following an ongoing downturn in orders for its Hollowcore flooring and precast stairs as a result of uncertainty in the marketplace driven by Brexit.

Chief executive Raymond Acheson said AG's plants at Ballygawley and Magherafelt have been running at 60 per cent capacity for some time and believes anticipated demand would be better served by running one factory to its full capacity.

“We simply cannot afford to continue to run the business with factories operating at 60 per cent capacity and therefore the company needs to take action now," he said

"It is vital for the wider business that we control our costs and restructure, so we can adapt to market conditions and capitalise on increased demand for other products. Our people are the very heart of our business so the proposal to consolidate precast manufacturing at Ballygawley has only been made after lengthy consideration. We fully understand how difficult this will be for our colleagues and we want to assure everyone potentially impacted that we will do our very best to support them through this process."

Mr Acheson said the downtown in demand is directly linked to major UK building projects being axed or delayed since the Brexit referendum and the ongoing lack of local government, which he states is holding back capital investment in Northern Ireland.

Up to 45 positions may be affected by the consolidation, but operating an increased production team at Ballygawley could create 10 new roles at the company. The firm also anticipates around five new jobs being created in other parts of the AG group as sales for non-precast products continue to rise. It is hoped as many of these positions as possible will be filled by staff currently based at Magherafelt.

Mr Acheson added that demand for AG's paving, building, and drainage products was encouraging and the proposals on the table are aimed at future-proofing the business.

“We want to assure our wider staff, customers, suppliers and other external stakeholders that the rest of the business is performing well. These proposals are all about strengthening our precast division and helping it adapt to market conditions. We see a healthy future for the precast business that will include new roles at our Ballygawley facility and an announcement in the coming weeks of our new precast managing director.”

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