Newry based business Norbrook, has announced it is cutting 180 jobs. The company, which has 1,600 staff in the city across three sites, said that changes in its operating environment, including economic challenges and more competition are the reasons behind the move.
A spokesperson for the company said:
“We recognise this is a difficult time for employees, but the decision has been taken after exhausting other options and to best position the company to return to growth as the market stabilises.
“We are currently exploring ways to minimise the need for compulsory redundancies, which will include offering voluntary redundancy packages, and we will enter into a period of consultation with our employees.”
Liam Nagle, Chairman and CEO of Norbrook, said: “In response to higher sales predictions, Norbrook invested over £10m in financial year 2023, primarily in increased headcount that would support increased manufacturing and product release.
“However, in the past year, a challenging global economic environment, together with increased competition in the animal health sector, has impacted on our ability to achieve anticipated sales growth.
“We have taken a number of actions to address these challenges but, regrettably, the actions taken to date are not enough and we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce our headcount. This decision has been taken to best position the company for the future and enable a return to growth as the market stabilises.”
He said that animal health was still a major market globally and that it would be manufacturing, testing and releasing products.
“We therefore have many reasons to be confident about future growth. However, these actions are necessary in the current environment in order to build a sustainable business for the long-term future.”
In its latest results, the company said inflation had driven down profits by nearly 30% to £20.2m. Revenues rose by 0.4% to £232m over the year to July 29 2022, although operating profit fell from £28.4m a year earlier.
Mr Nagle said in December that the business had successfully rebalanced its focus between large animals and companion animals, from 80% large animals and 20% pets several years ago, to a ratio of 60:40.
But he warned at the time that rising costs were a challenge. “There’s salary and cost of living inflation, and we’re seeing our raw material input prices going up including for chemicals. They are probably up by about 15%.”
Across the year, it had taken on over 400 people, with the workforce hitting 1,977 globally, with just under 1,600 in Newry.
Mr Nagle said the company had also helped employees with the rising cost of living. “We brought forward our annual review by a number of months to April 2022, and people got a 6% pay award on top of a 5% pay award in August 2021.
“People have had a one-off £500 bonus to help them deal with the winter, and we gave a £50 voucher at Easter. They’re getting another £50 voucher for Christmas, and next Wednesday all our employees around the world will get a turkey and ham.”