Namco buys Tipperary Atari plant


JAPANESE company, Namco, has taken over the Atari plant in Tipperary with plans to manufacture computer games for the European market.

The acquisition by Namco should ensure a brighter future for the Tipperary plant, according to an IDA Ireland spokesman. The takeover will stabilise the existing operation where 50 people are employed and could lead to expansion in the future, he said.

At its peak in the early 1980s, Atari employed 300 people in two plants in Tipperary, manufacturing computer games for arcades and pubs. It first opened in Ardfinnan in 1974 and added a plant in Tipperary town in 1978. However, by the mid 1980s the company was in decline, hit by the rise of home computers.

In 1989 the plant at Ardfinnan was closed and the 15 remaining staff there were transferred to the plant in Tipperary town. Total employment at Atari had fallen to 60 people. Atari received £505,000 in grant aid over 20 years. At the end of 1995, Atari was taken over by WMS of Chica. Employment has now fallen to 50 people in Tipperary.

Namco will use the plant to manufacture Sega games and other leisure products, it is understood. The IDA has had discussions with the company about its future plans - there is no grant aid for takeovers. Namco wants to use the Irish plant to take advantage of the growing market in Europe for game machines.