Business

Caterpillar to sell major part of Larne manufacturing base as downsizing programme continues

Caterpillar's expansive manufacturing operation in Larne.

CATERPILLAR is selling off a significant part of its manufacturing base in Larne as it continues to downsize its presence in Northern Ireland and move production to low-cost overseas locations.

The 18-acre site, which contains almost 200,000 sq ft of industrial and warehouse buildings, has been listed seeking offers of at least £3.25 million.

It’s part of a wider 51-acre industrial complex on the Old Glenarm Road.

It comes 12 months after the US manufacturing giant announced plans to cut 700 jobs within its operations in the north.

The redundancy programme, largely centred on the Larne site, is due to cut the Caterpillar workforce to around 900 by June this year, less than a third of the workforce it employed here a decade ago.

Unions have claimed much of the production being cut in Larne is being outsourced to India.

Caterpillar has maintained a presence in Northern Ireland since 1999, when it acquired the former FG Wilson generator manufacturing business.

But the operation has struggled in recent years, posting a pre-tax loss of almost £30m across 2017 and 2018.

Aerial view of Caterpillar's Larne site. The area marked in red is to be sold off.

Caterpillar closed its Monkstown factory outside Belfast in 2016, with Co Tyrone manufacturer CDE Global later acquiring the site.

The corporation improved its financial picture in 2020, recording a pre-tax profit of £7.1m, but the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to a ten percent slump in sales.

The latest set of accounts posted by Caterpillar alaso reveal it set £22.7m aside in 2020 for redundancy costs.

The down-sizing programme has continued into 2021, with Caterpillar’s administrative base at Springvale Business Park in west Belfast placed on the market for £3.5m in March 2021, with employees moved to Larne.

The company still operates a manufacturing facility at Springvale, which makes axles and transmissions for trucks.

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