Ardagh to open first plant in Ireland since Ringsend bottle factory closure

New York-listed group investing $200m in facility near Belfast

Metal cans are the most recycled drinks package in the world. Photograph: iStock

Metal cans are the most recycled drinks package in the world. Photograph: iStock

 

Financier Paul Coulson’s Ardagh Group is planning to build a beverage cans plant near Belfast at a cost of $200 million (€178 million), bringing manufacturing back to Ireland for the first time since its controversial closure of the Irish Glass Bottle facility in Ringsend in Dublin almost two decades ago.

The group’s New York-listed Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP) unit, in which Ardagh Group owns a 75 per cent stake, said on Friday that the planned state-of-the-art production facility was part of a multibillion dollar investment programme. It will be close to a plant of Coca-Cola, a key customer, in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

AMP is pursuing a $1.8 billion business growth investment programme covering the period 2021-2024, involving the development of new, recyclable, metal packaging capacity in Europe, North America and Brazil as it races to keep up with soaring demand globally for sustainable packaging.

“This exciting project is an important part of AMP’s global investment programme,” said chief executive Oliver Graham. “We are delighted to be investing in Northern Ireland, supporting our clients’ sustainability needs and further reducing our carbon footprint by locating capacity closer to our end customers.”

Ardagh Group, which traces its roots back the establishment of the Irish Glass Bottle Company in the 1930s, engineered a separate New York Stock Exchange quotation for its fast-growing AMP unit over the summer by way of a reverse merger into a listed cash shell, or special purpose acquisition company. Ardagh Group itself was delisted from the stock market last month.

Indirect stake

Mr Coulson, Ardagh Group’s chairman, chief executive and main shareholder, with a 33 per cent indirect stake, has transformed the business over the past 23 years from a sleepy single glass plant in Ringsend to become one of the largest glass and metal packaging groups in the world, through a series of debt-funded deals.

As the company focused increasingly on international expansion, it closed the Ringsend facility in 2002 – following a 17-week strike – with a loss of 375 jobs.

Metal cans are the most recycled drinks package in the world, contributing to a circular economy and the sustainability requirements of AMP customers and consumers, according to the company. The new plan will be at Global Point, near Belfast.

“Though details on precise job numbers are still being finalised, the investment by AMP will lead to the creation of a large number of full-time jobs for engineers, technicians and other roles,” it said. “AMP is at the pre-planning application stage and is actively engaged with local stakeholders on the project. Further details of the plant will be announced over the coming months.”