Food producer Green Isle is to invest €22.6m in a new pizza research unit at its production facility in Naas, Co Kildare. The expansion is expected to create 130 jobs and bring the total number employees at the plant to 760.
The expansion, due to begin in the autumn, will see the construction of a new bakery and the fit out of this facility as well as some capital expenditure on the existing topping and packing line, which has spare capacity.
The Northern Foods subsidiary, best known for its Goodfellas and San Marco frozen pizza brands, runs three facilities, two in Naas and one in Longford.
Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD, speaking at the Green Isle plant in Naas, said: “The importance of research and development [R&D] in driving new jobs, sales and exports is clearly demonstrated in this project. Following extensive market research, Green Isle, with the assistance of an Enterprise Ireland [EI] Research Technology and Innovation grant, committed R&D funding to investigate expanded pizza production and enhanced manufacturing processes. That research commitment has led to a major expansion that will generate projected sales of €35m and exports of €23.5m over the next five years.
“The challenge of winning new sales in highly competitive global markets cannot be underestimated. Growing productivity and controlling costs will be critical in achieving and sustaining the competitiveness needed to win such ambitious international sales.”
Green Isle is the centre of excellence for pizza production in the Northern Foods Group and the new investment reinforces this role.
Welcoming the announcement by Minister Martin, Frank Ryan, chief executive officer of EI, said: “Green Isle’s success to date can be attributed to a continual investment in capital, R&D, product innovation, brand development and customer service. The company has a well established and highly innovative sales and marketing strategy, a factor that will be important in delivering the sales and exports arising from this expansion.”
Green Isle managing director Kieran Carolan paid tribute to the Irish operation for winning the new investment despite the rising cost of doing business in Ireland and the challenging competitive environment.
By Brian Skelly