Northern Ireland

JTI : Tobacco firm sets up £5m trust fund as it leaves Ballymena

JTI (Japan Tobacco International) is to close its cigarette factory in Ballymena next year Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption JTI (Japan Tobacco International) is to close its cigarette factory in Ballymena next year

The tobacco firm JTI is to set up a £5m trust fund to assist job creation in Ballymena, County Antrim, in the wake of its decision to close its factory.

JTI is ending production in Ballymena in 2017 with the loss of 800 jobs.

The fund, which will be chaired by the local MP Ian Paisley, will dispense about £300,000 a year over the next 20 years.

The development of the fund was first reported by the Ballymena Guardian newspaper.

It is similar to a £5m fund the Michelin tyre company set up in the wake of the closure of its factory in the town.

The JTI fund will start operation in 2017 and aims to focus on a small number of major projects.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption About 500 workers left the factory for the last time in May, with the remainder of the jobs due to finish by May 2017

The fund's board will include representative from local businesses and trade unions.

About 500 workers have already left the factory with the remainder of the jobs finishing by May 2017.

When the job losses were announced in 2014, JTI said it was restructuring its manufacturing facilities "as a result of significant and sustained changes impacting its global business".

It said a challenging economic environment, excise tax pressure and the illegal trade of counterfeit cigarettes had "triggered industry volume contraction in a number of key European countries".

The company said these problems had been compounded by European Union cigarette packaging legislation.

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