The print business of Hewlett Packard in Leixlip, Co Kildare, is to close, management confirmed this morning.
The multinational's facility in Leixlip focuses on products for the PC and printer market, which is under increasing pressure from the fall in traditional computer sales, the move away from printing documents and preference for tablet technology.
The company said in a statement: "In line with our previously communicated strategy, HP's global print business is working to drive continuous efficiencies and cost savings that enable investment in new market opportunities and growth initiatives, such as 3D printing.
"As a result, we have made the decision to close our global print business at the Leixlip site.
"It is likely that close to 500 HP employees will be impacted and leave the business over the next 12 months."
It says the decision is not a reflection on employees here or on the Leixlip site's performance.
The company said the Leixlip facility has been an important HP site for its operations over the last 20 years and that it has "a long history of valuable contribution, innovation and business excellence".
"This decision is not a reflection on our Ireland employees or on the site's performance," it said.
"We are very aware of the impact this decision will have on our employees in Ireland and we are focusing all of our efforts on supporting them, on identifying opportunities for them and on providing a programme to help them prepare for the transition ahead."
The company also says that Ireland will remain a key market for HP, where they will maintain sales operations for Printing and Personal Systems business.Split
Workers were told the news after being called into meetings with management this morning.
The company split its operations into Hewlett Packard Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprises in 2015, with the latter focusing on new technology such as cloud computing.
It announced last October that between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs would be cut from its 50,000 worldwide workforce between 2017 and 2019.
The firm first set up a sales office in Ireland in 1976 and the Leixlip facility - a major employer in the Kildare region - was established in 1995, producing ink-jet printer cartridges and working on research and development.
Hewlett Packard has other operations in Ireland, including in Galway, Dublin and Belfast, and at its height employed several thousand staff.
Senior management from the company's head offices in Palo Alto, California, briefed employees at a meeting in the facility.Expressed Sympathy
Housing Minister Simon Coveney later expressed sympathy with the workers.
“It’s really bad news,” he said. “We need to make sure that all of the support systems and arms of the State and agencies of the State are there now to support and help.”
Opposition politicians called for the Government to seek state and European supports for workers to get new jobs, retrain or upskill.
Labour's Alan Kelly said: "Efforts must also be made by the IDA to source a replacement industry for the region to deal with the jobs vacuum that will be left.
"We're entering into a time of major uncertainty with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, and it is vital that Ireland is pitched as an attractive place to do business with a highly skilled workforce."
Local Fianna Fáil TD Frank O'Rourke said: "The Government needs to put in place a multi-agency task force to assist workers in finding alternative employment."
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has expressed his shock at the announcement from HP Inc, and confirmed that officials in his Department are available to brief staff on State supports and re-training options.
Minister Varadkar said: “This is a very distressing time for employees who have given so much to the company. My thoughts and those of my Government colleagues are with all the staff affected. The Department of Social Protection will do all it can to assist employees, including one-on-one briefing sessions on welfare and employment supports.
"The Department is liaising with MABS so that its officials are on hand to offer financial advice and support, and also with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education & Skills to ensure that all avenues are explored for every staff member. Our goal is to ensure that all staff affected can move smoothly into new employment or training.
“I want to assure everyone affected that the Department of Social Protection officials are determined to help them to get through this difficult period, and identify the supports they need to get back into employment again as quickly as possible,” concluded the minister.