Job losses a ‘hammer blow’ for town

The news that 100 jobs in National Pen are at risk due to a restructuring of the company has been met with disappointment and shock this week. Local TD Ruairi O’Murchú said the news was a ‘hammer blow’ for the workers in the local facility in Xerox Technology Park.

National Pen opened its international headquarters in Dundalk almost 35 years ago in 1987 and over three decades grew to the point where it employed over 1000 employees by 2017, the year they celebrated being in Dundalk for thirty years.

Now, according to statement from National Pen President and CEO Peter Kelly another 100 jobs are thought to be under threat as the company confirmed plans to conduct the fulfilment of European orders at the company’s facility in the Czech Republic from 2023.

“National Pen has been digitally transforming our business from a value-based brand to a service-oriented brand. One of the key aspects of this transformation is to reduce turn-around times on our customer orders. The ongoing supply chain environment, coupled with a customer base that is increasingly shopping online has led to our efforts to invest in technology, ecommerce and supply chain capabilities to remain best in class in our industry. For this reason, we plan to cease fulfilment operations at our Dundalk facility from next calendar year, 2023. From 2023 onwards, we plan to conduct the fulfilment of European orders at National Pen’s facility in the Czech Republic as the closer proximity to market will enable faster delivery to our core customer base across mainland Europe.

“The plan to relocate fulfilment operations in 2023 is in no way a reflection on the excellent work our fulfilment teams have done throughout the years in Dundalk, but regrettably, National Pen anticipates that 100 fulfilment roles will be at risk as a result of this operational restructure. Non-fulfilment positions currently based in Dundalk will not be impacted. National Pen remains fully committed to Dundalk as our International Headquarters and a crucial site of operational importance. We plan to further invest in our online operations in Ireland with the creation of 50 new technology and ecommerce positions in Ireland over the next five years in partnership with the IDA,” read the statement from National Pen’s President.
Local TD Ruarí O’Murchú described the news as a hamer blow for Dundalk and expressed fears about the long term plans for the company in Dundalk.

‘This is a hammer blow to the people who are losing their jobs in National Pen, coming as it does at the start of a new year.
‘The only good thing is that those who are being made redundant have not had their jobs advertised before they were told they were losing their positions in Dundalk, like their former colleagues in 2020.
‘Eighteen months ago, National Pen advertised positions in Tunisia for foreign language sales teams that were based in Dundalk before the workers were told by email that their jobs were being moved.
‘Like on that occasion, the news has come out of the blue on a Friday.

‘At that time, I wrote to National Pen seeking assurances for the workers who were losing their jobs then and for those who were still there. The company did not respond.
‘While National Pen has been a large employer in Dundalk for nearly 35 years, I am fearful of what their long-term plan for their local facility is, despite their assurances to the IDA and the government.
‘This the second major set of job losses in 18 months.
‘There is no doubt that this announcement will be felt far and wide around the community of Dundalk and further afield,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce has vowed to support workers whose jobs are at risk and help them identify new job opportunities.

“Dundalk Chamber is disappointed at the announcement of further losses at National Pen, which are not seasonal adjustments.
“We hope that the fact that the lead in time of one year will enable a programme of training and other supports will enable all effected to identify new job opportunities.
“The Chamber has through its SKILLNETS programme over the last two years already seen the level of upskilling and retraining that is possible. We will of course make our resources available to help in anyway,” stated the Chamber.

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