Jobs boost for NI as two firms announce 55 new positions

Whitby Seafood to take on 33 staff in Kilkeel while AGR Automation creating 22 jobs in Ballymena

Northern Ireland's fishing industry is to get a £1 million boost from a major new investment programme by one of the UK's best known family-owned seafood companies who plan to expand its processing operations and create 33 jobs in Kilkeel.

Whitby Seafoods, which has owned Kilkeel Seafood since 2011, employs 140 people at the North's key fishing port.

The new investment programme at Kilkeel Seafood division is designed to expand the processing operations specifically for wholetail scampi which the company will then supply to Whitby Seafoods in North Yorkshire.

Daniel Whittle, managing director of Kilkeel Seafoods said its parent company had decided to concentrate resources on supplying customers with scampi soucred from UK and Irish trawlers and processed within its own operations including its plant in Kilkeel.


Mr Whittle said: “It’s a tremendous endorsement in the consistently high quality of our products and also of the scampi from the North Channel and Irish Sea provided by our network of experienced suppliers.

“The investment being undertaken in our operations in Kilkeel positions us for faster growth within Whitby Seafoods as the group responds to the developing market demand for locally sourced food.”

Invest NI will provide financial support of £99,000 towards the creation of the 33 new jobs through its Jobs Fund initiatives.

John Hood, Invest NI Food and Tourism director said the consolidation of scampi processing at Kilkeel was a very important boost for the local fishing industry and the wider economy of the County Down coastal region.

“Support from the Jobs Fund will leverage almost £500,000 annually in direct salaries and wages of the new employees as well as offering opportunities to a broad range of suppliers including local trawler owners and crews,” he added.

Meanwhile a Scottish engineering company has also confirmed plans to establish a new Northern Ireland engineering site.

AGR Automation Ltd, which is headquartered in Arbroath, Scotland plans to develop a new facility in Ballymena which will initially create 22 jobs.

The company designs and manufactures high performance bespoke automation solutions for high volume parts assembly, mainly in the medical, personal care and industrial electro-mechanical device markets.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business