LONDON Hard drives specialist Seagate Technology is abandoning one of its two manufacturing plants in Northern Ireland, which will result in about 780 full time employees losing their jobs.
The 10-year-old plant at Limavady in County Londonderry manufactures nickel plated aluminum substrates the base platter on which magnetic materials are deposited for making hard drives.
The move is part of the American group's strategy to streamline operations. The closure is expected to be completed by the second half of next year.
"We have made great efforts over the past few years to maintain the competitiveness of the Limavady facility, but recent increases in global substrate industry capacity together with our competitors' lower labour costs are also contributing factors," said William O'Kane, plant manager at the Limavady factory. "We have examined several options to maintain some or all of the Limavady facility but none proved financially viable."
A slightly larger Seagate plant nearby at Springton in Londonderry will be unaffected, said the company. The plant, which employs about 1,400 fabricates wafers.
Two years ago, Seagate said it is investing £83 million ($157 million) in its two Northern Ireland factories. The investment was expected to create 300 new jobs and included backing of £24.82 million ($47 million) from Invest Northern Ireland, the main economic development agency.
Seagate ( Scotts Valley, Calif.) is planning to open a substrate facility in Malaysia next year. The new plant will be Seagate's third manufacturing operation in the country, and will reportedly create 2,500 new jobs when the plant is fully operational.