Randox acquires major part of Caterpillar manufacturing base in Larne

Caterpillar's former south campus in Larne, which has been bought by Randox.
Caterpillar's former south campus in Larne, which has been bought by Randox.

RANDOX has bought a significant part of Caterpillar’s manufacturing facility in Larne.

The Co Antrim life sciences group, which became a major provider of Covid-19 tests for the UK Government in 2020, said the 18-acre site will play integral part of its development and growth plans.

Caterpillar put the southern end of its Larne campus on the market in November 2021 with an asking price of £3.25 million.

Commenting on the acquisition, a Randox spokesperson said: “Randox have ambitious plans for development and growth and are at the forefront of diagnostic innovation, both nationally and internationally, to drive essential improvements across healthcare.

“We are excited by the acquisition of our Larne site, which will play an integral role within our vibrant life sciences infrastructure.”

Between January 2020 and December 2021, Randox was awarded 22 contracts by the UK’s Department of Health, capped at £777m.

In June, Randox posted a pre-tax profit of £275m for the 12-month period to June 2021.

The Covid-19 testing contracts have been subject to investigations by both the UK National Audit Office (NAO) and Westminster's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

While the NAO found no evidence that the contracts were awarded improperly, the PAC said “woefully inadequate” record-keeping by the Department of Health had made it “impossible to have confidence that all its contracts with Randox were awarded properly”.

Randox described the PAC report as “deeply flawed” adding that it was “wrong in assumptions it makes and the conclusions it draws".

Representatives for the An Antrim company have said the total paid to Randox from the contracts was £469m.

Set up in 1982 by Dr Peter Fitzgerald, the Crumlin-headquartered group has grown into a global business, operating in 145 countries.

The expansion into Covid-19 testing saw hundreds of people recruited into its workforce, which had increased by 700 to 2,112 by June 2021.

The group’s new 18-acre site in Larne includes around 200,000 sq ft of industrial and warehouse buildings.

The 18-acres sold by Caterpillar, marked out in red.
The 18-acres sold by Caterpillar, marked out in red.

Caterpillar’s decision to sell part of its Old Glenarm Road site came just 12 months after the US giant announced plans to cut 700 jobs in Larne, where it makes generators under the FG Wilson brand.

Caterpillar announced a further 83 redundancies in September 2022 in response to decreased demand for its diesel powered sets.

The operation, which boasted around 3,000 workers just over a decade ago, has been steadily downsizing in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Caterpillar NI reported pre-tax losses in excess of £43m over a three-year period between 2017 and 2019. However, it returned to profitability in 2020 and its latest accounts for 2021 showed a profit of £21.4m before tax.