JTI Gallaher: Business began it’s life in Derry

Gallagher's tobacco firm began in Derry in 1857.
Gallagher's tobacco firm began in Derry in 1857.

A cigarette making plant based in Ballymena which is to close with the loss of 800 jobs began its life in County Derry around 160 years ago.

Redundancy notices will start to be handed out next week with the job losses taking effect in May 2016.

Gallaher’s tobbaco for was founded in Derry in 1857 by the teenage Tom Gallaher who sold hand rolled cigarettes around the city from a hand cart. By 1896, his Belfast tobacco factory was the largest in the world.

The company was taken over in 2007 by Japanese firm JTI.

MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley Jr said the announcement “effectively” launches a 90-day consultation period, with workers, not only in Ballymena but across JTI’s European footprint, to cease production.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has called the decision “devastating.”

The company said it was restructuring its manufacturing facilities “as a result of significant and sustained changes impacting its global business.”

JTI also said that these issues had been compounded by European Union cigarette packaging legislation.”