Cater­pil­lar cost-cut­ting as it sells off build­ing amid fall­ing sales

Man­u­fac­tur­ing firm has al­ready an­nounced 250 job cuts in NI

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY JOHN MUL­GREW

COST- CUT­TING is con­tin­u­ing at Cater­pil­lar NI as the man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant sees its turnover fall by more than £80m and sales to Europe slashed in half.

The gen­er­a­tor-maker is sell­ing off one of its Belfast of­fices, af­ter an­nounc­ing 250 jobs cuts across North­ern Ire­land last year as part of global down­siz­ing. It’s also warned that “much un­cer­tainty con­tin­ues to ex­ist” around Brexit.

The firm, which has a man­u­fac­tur­ing base and of­fices in west Belfast, is sell­ing off a three-storey build­ing at its Spring­vale site for £475,000.

It’s un­der­stood that staff at Spring­vale have been con­sol­i­dated into a larger of­fice build­ing, also based at the site, fol­low­ing job cuts re­vealed late last year,

Now, ac­counts for Cater­pil­lar (NI) Ltd, show sales fell from £537m to £455m in the year to De­cem­ber 31, 2016.

The for­mer FG Wil­son busi­ness has its base at Larne, as well as man­u­fac­tur­ing, sales and ad­min­is­tra­tion at Spring­vale.

How­ever, it is wind­ing down and clos­ing its Monkstown op­er­a­tion.

Cater­pil­lar’s lat­est ac­counts show the com­pany man­aged to turn a £5m loss into a pre-tax profit of more than £10m due, to what it said, was a large one­off im­pair­ment charge of more than £9m.

The com­pany said that the ac­counts were “favourably im­pacted” for a “recharge of con­sult­ing charges in­curred in prior years”.

How­ever, the Us-owned busi­ness said it was “ad­versely im­pacted by £858,000 of as­set im­pair­ments re­lated to the con­sol­i­da­tion of those con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tions”.

The prop­erty be­ing sold off in­cludes a three-storey stand­alone of­fice build­ing of con­crete frame con­struc­tion.

A spokesman for Cater­pil­lar said: “We con­tin­u­ally seek ways to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of our busi­ness.

“As a re­sult, a small num­ber of em­ploy­ees have re­lo­cated from a pe­riph­eral build­ing at the Spring­vale Busi­ness Park to the main of­fice at the site.”

The build­ing which it is sell­ing off is based across 10,600 sq ft.

The US com­pany re­vealed that it was re­struc­tur­ing its busi­ness in North­ern Ire­land as part of global cut­backs across the busi­ness back in Septem­ber last year.

The firm will have a pe­riod of con­sul­ta­tion to de­ter­mine the spread of the losses over the next year.

Speak­ing about the re­duc­tion in staff and cut­backs, the firm said that “2016 also saw the de­ci­sion made to dis­con­tinue the man­u­fac­tur­ing of the ‘wheeled ma­te­rial han­dler’ prod­uct and a process of con­sol­i­dat­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tiv­ity into two sites was be­gun”.

The com­pany, in its lat­est ac­counts, said a ‘Brexit’ team “con­tin­ues to as­sess po­ten­tial im­pacts across all as­pects of our busi­ness”.

“With ne­go­ti­a­tions hav­ing now started, much un­cer­tainty con­tin­ues to ex­ist and so this work con­tin­ues con­sid­er­ing all cases, in­clud­ing ‘worst case sce­nar­ios’ to the busi­ness,” it said.

That in­cludes no “tar­iff-free ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket” and “be­ing out­side the cus­toms union”.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ac­counts, over­all sales to the UK fell from £104m to £74m in the last year. But it was sales to the rest of Europe which took the big­gest hit — drop­ping by al­most half, from £261,to £133m.

How­ever, sales out­side of Europe in­creased from £171m to £247m.

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