Colombo, April 16 – The century old Belgian cigar manufacturer J. Cortés is closing the cigar factory in Ballaghaderreen, Ireland in the next six months and moving its operations to Sri Lanka, a local media report said here Sunday.
J. Cortés acquired the Exclusive Cigar Manufacturing Ireland plant, a family cigar company based in Ballaghaderreen, in January this year and has assured job security for the 38 employees of ECMI.
However, on Thursday, the large Belgian tobacco company has informed the ECMI that they are proposing to close the factory in Ireland and move its operations to an existing plant in Sri Lanka in order to rationalize the business and save on wage costs.
J. Cortés already has a tobacco processing factory in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone. United Tobacco Processing (UTP), a Sri Lankan Board of Investment firm processes freshly bought tobacco in its factory in Katunayake and ships to the parent company’s factory in Handzame, Belgium.
UTP processes over 450 tons of raw tobacco annually, shipping a total of 130 containers back and forth between Sri Lanka and Belgium. UTP is also where J. Cortés and Country cigar ranges are produced and packed.