The announcement by the Authentic Food Company that it is to close down is very disappointing. The Government’s immediate concern is for those workers directly affected by this announcement in this very difficult time for them and their families. The Government will make every State support available to these employees.
My Department, through Enterprise Ireland (EI), has had a strong active engagement with the Authentic Food Company before, during and since they acquired their Dundalk facility. EI has supported the company with grant aid in the forms of Lean Transform, multiple Technical Feasibility Studies and an Innovation Partnership with Dundalk Institute of Technology. The EI Brexit Unit services were also made available to the company.
A total of 7 meetings between EI and the Authentic Food Company were held in 2017 and three meetings have taken place to date in 2018. In addition, as Mr Basran is based in the UK, two phone calls were held recently with Mr. Basran.
We will collectively, across Government, do our utmost to help these workers transition and find new employment opportunities. EI is also working with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on an information day, which will take place on 1st November at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk. This will highlight start-up supports and programmes available to former employees of the Authentic Food Company. Several large companies in the region have been invited to attend.
Notwithstanding this extremely disappointing news, it’s important to remember that the overall trend in terms of job creation in the region is positive. 2017, for example, was another record year for the State in terms of FDI and indigenous employment and investment, with continued strong employment growth reported so far in 2018.
Recent announcements for Louth include 400 jobs and a €325m investment by Wuxi in Dundalk in April; 70 jobs for Drogheda by PCI Pharma in April; an expansion by Almac at its Dundalk campus worth €34m in January; 250 roles by National Pen in Dundalk in December; and 300 jobs by Wasdell Group in Dundalk in November as part of a €30m investment.
There is every reason to be confident that we will find new investment and new opportunities for the employees of the Authentic Food Company.