THE community of the Clogher Valley has been dealt a major jobs blow after it was announced that the milk processing plant in Fivemiletown will most certainly close after more than a century in operation.
Despite discussions late on Thursday night, shareholders of Fivemiletown Creamery voted overhwelmingly in favour (83%) of forming a long-term relationship with Glenbia Ingredients Ireland (GIIL).
The Board of Directors of the Creamery said they “regret the likely closure of the milk processing plant in the town and the resulting loss of jobs. The creamery has existed on the current site for 116 yeyars.”
The agreement involves suppliers of Fivemiletown Creamery entering into a long-term milk supply agreement with GIIL.
A statement issued by the Board of Directors of Fivemiletown Creamery said it would now enter into consultations with its employees regarding the future of its cheese facility.
“The Fivemiletown milk pool of 25m litres/annum will be supplied to GIIL and Fivemiletown suppliers will receive an advisory service from GIIL.
“As part of the agreement, GIIL will acquire the Fivemiletown cheese brands except for Boilie goat’s cheese which will remain with Fivemiletown.
“Fivemiletown will retain ownership of the cheese manufacturing site, and GIIL will form an alliance with Fivemiletown in relation to its retail store, Ballylurgan Hardware, which is currently profitable and has the potential to grow over the coming years.
“The management and board of Fivemiletown will enter into consultations with its employees regarding the future of its cheese facility which has experienced difficult trading conditions during the past two years.”
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said it would be a “great shame” if the Fivemiletown cheese brands were lost to Northern Ireland.
Explaining that difficulties arose from the loss of a major contract, she said: “Together with Invest Northern Ireland, I am now seeking an urgent meeting with GIIL to discuss securing the best possible outcome for Northern Ireland”