Up to 80 jobs could be lost at the Tayto factory in Tandragee, the company confirmed today (Thursday).
The Unite union had earlier warned of the job losses - which they claim will be made within the next few months - and said they will be balloting staff for strike action.
A spokesperson for Tayto said that while they are not currently in formal consultation with staff regarding redundancies, “there is a strong possibility that we will have to consider this”.
The company said this financial year has been more difficult than previous ones and that and “while things are picking up, business is down”.
The statement added, “We always experience a seasonal drop in the first few months of the year, but recovery has definitely been slower this year. It is only five years ago that the company lost nearly £18 million in one year and while in the last three years we have made a pre-tax profit totalling £17 million, we have actually invested more than £18 million in capital expenditure.”
Tayto said they had no intention of ceasing production at the Tandragee site but added that, in the future, the company could be forced to restrict production to what is sold in Northern Ireland.
The potential job losses come in Tayto’s 60th anniversary year.
Sean McKeever, Unite officer for production and packaging workers at Tayto in Tandragee, said, “This is only the latest in a series of blows to workers. ... This is disgraceful behaviour from a group who announced pre-tax profits for 2015 of more than seven million pounds.
“This group appear intent on marking the 60th anniversary of Tayto in Tandragee with large-scale job losses and a squeeze on workers’ pay. It is likely that any strike action will cause significant disruption not just to the production of Tayto crisps but also own-brand products for the multiples.”
Tayto said that production costs in Tandragee are considerably higher than at any of their other sites, which are all in England. The statement added, “Only £25 million of our £180 million turnover comes from Tandragee. In addition, much of our raw material cannot be sourced locally and has to be brought in from GB and beyond, it is processed at the County Armagh factory and then 60 per cent of what we produce is shipped back for sale in GB.
“The Hutchinson family and Tayto Group management are based here. We are extremely proud to be part of a successful local company and of the Northern Ireland heritage of the Tayto brand.”