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Armagh packaging business invests £4M to grow export sales

Armagh packaging business JF McKenna is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to invest over £4 million to grow export sales.

The family owned and managed manufacturing business, based at Cathedral Road in Armagh, also plans to recruit 10 new employees, including four for managerial posts, by 2016 as part of a new export-led growth strategy.

The company currently employs 49 people and is investing in new packaging equipment to enhance its competitiveness in key markets especially outside Northern Ireland.

John Hood, Invest NI Director of Food and Tourism, announcing support for the investment, said: “This is a very significant expansion in new plant and marketing activities by a successful company which is now a market leader in packaging for the mushroom, poultry and wider horticultural sectors.

“Our support will enable the company to offer existing and potential customers, especially in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other parts of Europe, a much wider range of plastic packaging for punnets and trays for mushrooms and other food and horticultural products.

“The investment is a further boost for manufacturing here and will see this progressive company grow exports to 75 per cent of output. The 10 new jobs will provide an additional £230,000 in salaries and wages in Armagh by 2016,” he added.

Brendan McKenna, JF McKenna Managing Director, outlining the company’s expansion plans, said: “This very substantial investment will enable us to develop and manufacture packaging from a wider range of polymers. This will strengthen our ability to compete more effectively, particularly in terms of cost, for business and to grow our market share.

“By strengthening our manufacturing capability and versatility and our overall competitiveness we aim to exploit the significant opportunities that we believe exist in Europe for our expertise. Another key aspect of the investment is the capability it provides for us to diversify into plastic packaging for other products,” he added.

Invest NI is providing £422,000 of assistance towards the eligible costs of the investment by the company, which was formed in 1960.

The company has also used a range of Invest NI programmes including support for R&D, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, technical and trade support.

Picture shows Brendan McKenna, of JF McKenna, left, and John Hood, Invest NI. Credit: Parkway Photography.

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