Redundancy fears at Lurgan cold storage firm Americold

Americold, which in 2020 acquired Agro, is understood to have made a number of redundancies in Lurgan
Gary McDonald Business Editor

LURGAN-based cold storage giant Americold was refusing to confirm last night how many members of staff have been laid off in what appears to be an unexpected restructuring of the business.

A number of employees of the haulage business, believed to be as many as 20, were called in one by one by management on Monday morning and told they are no longer required.

And one source told the Irish News that those being made redundant, or who were temporarily suspended, were told the reason the move was due to a change in business needs at Americold, which in 2020 acquired Agro, previously known as Sawyers Transport.

Agro employed around 400 people from its Lurgan base (it also operates in Castleblaney and Dublin) but was bought over by Americold in a $1.74 billion (£1.35bn) deal.

That sale saw the ownership of Agro transfer from an investor group led by Oaktree Capital Management to Americold Realty Trust, described as the world’s largest publicly traded real estate investment trust focused on temperature-controlled warehouses.

The Lurgan company, which was set up by the Co Tyrone-based Sawyers family in 1970, had expanded to a fleet of 300 trailers when it was sold in mid-2015.

Americold’s acquisition of Atlanta-based Agro took its portfolio to 229 global facilities, giving one of the strongest networks in the world with leading operational capabilities.

Reports of the job losses by Americold were described as “deeply concerning” by Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart.

She said: “Details are still a unclear, but this is no doubt a time of great uncertainty and worry for anyone losing their employment.”

She said she had sought a meeting with the company asking for more details on its redundancy proposals and to ensure all employee rights have been upheld.

When contacted by the Irish News, Americold said it was making no comment.

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