Kerry Group is to invest €100m to build a global technology and innovation centre at Naas, Co Kildare.
The new campus will employ 800 people by 2015, with a further 100 highly skilled positions expected to come on stream in 2016.
Four hundred jobs will be created during the 15-month construction of the massive new campus on a 28-acre greenfield site in the Millennium Park, adjacent to the N7.
The hugely positive announcement was made by Kerry group chief executive Stan McCarthy on Tuesday morning at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel.
The magnitude of the project was demonstrated by the presence of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan hailed the project as 'a huge win for Ireland'.
Stan McCarthy said that the new centre would be modelled on Kerry's successful innovation centre at Beloit in Wisconsin, USA, which opened in 2009 and has attracted 500 customer visits in the past 12 months.
The centres bring all of Kerry Group's diverse offerings to one location, allowing customers access to the group's complete range of technologies, research, innovation and applications expertise across food, beverage and pharmaceutical markets.
Once completed in 2015, the Naas campus will have a total of 22,500m2 of buildings. Laboratories will replicate the equipment at Kerry's global sites, as well as the customers' own manufacturing process. Pilot plants will allow the immediate test manufacture of new applications and products.
There will also be commercialisation teams on site to take new products to market. It is part of Stan McCarthy's drive to create '1 Kerry' facing global customers.
Having teams with a range of capabilities and technologies in one location is crucial for the all important 'speed to market', he said.
The new centre will also be the headquarters for Kerry Group's EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and America), which currently operate from offices near Dublin airport.
A Kerry Group spokesman told the Irish Farmers Journal that the recruitment of the first tranche of 150 graduates, mainly from Irish universities, will start immediately.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was visibly thrilled to be making such a large scale jobs announcement by an indigenous firm.
"This facility will act as an international magnet for our country and sends a message of confidence in the future of Ireland," he said.
"The decision by Kerry Group to establish this ground breaking facility in Ireland will bolster our strong reputation as a globally renowned country for food production and innovation."
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney described the announcement as 'phenomenal' and said that the campus would generate estimated wages of €75m per year.
Kerry Group strongly considered sites in the UK and Amsterdam before opting for Ireland. Proximity to an international airport was a key factor in the decision, Stan McCarthy said.
Phase 1 of the project will see 80 mostly Dublin-based Kerry Group staff transfer in the coming weeks to a vacant building in the Millennium Park.
A further 80 staff currently based in Santry are expected to transfer early next year. Some key scientists for the new innovation centre are likely to be recruited from Kerry Group locations globally.
Meanwhile, Stan McCarthy confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that last week's partnership agreement with Chinese firm Beingmate, may, in time, result in Kerry producing, for the first time, market-ready infant nutrition products.
In the first phase of the partnership, investment is starting immediately at Listowel and Charleville to double the company's Irish output of demineralised whey and infant formula base powder.
Kerry Group, which yesterday (Wednesday) had a market value of €7.1 billion, has its origins in the commissioning of the first Kerry co-op milk processing plant at Listowel, Co Kerry, in 1972. Today, the company employs 24,000 at 150 sites on five continents.
sIt sells a diverse range of 15,000 food and ingredient products to customers in 140 countries.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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