Sportswear giant O’Neills has laid off 750 staff ‘temporarily’ as a result of the coronavirus impact.
The company said the decision had been taken due to a complete cessation of orders from local clubs and the entire GAA programme having been wiped out.
O’Neills manufactures sportswear from its factory in Strabane in Co Tyrone and has sales outlets across Northern Ireland, including at Newry and Craigavon.
It said in a statement: “Due to the postponement and cancellation of sporting activities and the complete cessation of orders received from clubs and retailers across the business, the company has no alternative other than to take drastic measures to safeguard its long-term future.”
The company is understood to be retaining staff to complete the existing orders.
It will be May at the earliest before those temporarily laid off staff will return.
O’Neills described it as “unprecedented times”.
And in a social media post direct at customers it added: “While it certainly isn’t business as usual for us or indeed the entire sports and leisure industry, at O’Neills, although we have scaled back our production operations, we remain open for business.
“Our sales reps are available by email and phone to answer any queries and customers may continue to shop online at oneills.com
“We wish to thank all our staff, customers and partners for their understanding and continued support.
“Our 100 years of experience will allow us to adapt and embrace the challenges ahead.
“We look forward to serving your community for many years to come.
“From everyone at O’Neills, we wish you good health. Stay safe, we’ll see you soon.”