'Anger and dismay' at haulage firm's decision to close site and make 500 staff redundant in Lurgan

DRIVING AWAY: Morgan McLernon is planning to shut its operation in Lurgan with the loss of 500 jobs
DRIVING AWAY: Morgan McLernon is planning to shut its operation in Lurgan with the loss of 500 jobs

POLITICIANS and public figures have expressed their shock and dismay at the "devastating" news that 500 workers will lose their jobs in Lurgan, where refrigerated transport company Morgan McLernon has been earmarked for closure.

As first revealed in the Irish News, management at Morgan McLernon - which since 2017 has been a subsidiary of the English-based Culina Group - informed staff on Tuesday that, despite their best efforts, a decision to shut has become unavoidable.

And one of the reasons they cited was the negative implications of Brexit in the north, which are defined by difficulties arising from the imposition of a border down the Irish Sea.

The Culina Group, the largest UK haulier of chilled and ambient products, is still not confirming if any of the 500 jobs (390 drivers and 110 administration staff) can be saved or relocated to any of its other operations.


  • 500 jobs go as Lurgan haulier warns of 'unsustainable financial position' - and blames Brexit
  • More than 100 job losses announced at Seagate Derry plant
  • Newry pharma giant Norbrook to lay off 180 staff

In a statement it said: “We can confirm that a proposal has been put forward to close the Morgan McLernon site in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. A period of meaningful consultation has now been entered into with those colleagues affected.”

Morgan McLernon, which makes 57,000 deliveries a year to virtually every large supermarket in the UK and Ireland from its 66,000 sq ft chilled warehouse, operates 220 vehicles and 600 trailers.

Its most recent accounts reveal that, while sales increased from £63.8 million to £67.5 million, it swung from a profit of £4 million to a £340,000 loss.

Former Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly - who had previously said that a lack of HGV drivers was posing a serious logistical threat to the haulage industry - said she was devastated at the news of the job losses at Morgan McLernon and called for urgent interventions to see if its closure could be avoided.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd said that in the absence of a sitting Executive, he would be contacting the Department for the Economy permanent secretary asking what support can be offered to the company and its workers.

The constituency's DUP MP Carla Lockhart said: “I am deeply concerned at the proposed cessation of activity and site closure of Morgan McLernon.

“The volume of trade movements across the Irish Sea has been falling since the imposition of the Irish Sea border and particularly since the announcement of the Windsor Framework in February this year as retailers have prepared for the introduction of the Windsor border on October 1.

“It is clear that haulage companies based in Northern Ireland whose business model is predicated on being part of the UK economy are in real difficulty because of this.

“In May it was reported that a leading supermarket had advised retailers that the policy of seeking to sustain operations in Northern Ireland on the basis of the green lane would be the death knell of any supermarket business and that in order to survive under Windsor, supermarkets must get as much of their product as possible from the Republic of Ireland, avoiding the border with its green and red lanes whenever possible.

“The underlying economic changes that inform this announcement clearly demonstrate how the Protocol/Windsor Framework is increasingly replacing the UK economy with a GB economy and attempting to put Northern Ireland in the same economy as the Republic of Ireland.”