All 360 workers at the pharmaceutical and medical device company Allergan in Arklow, Co Wicklow were told this morning that they are to lose their jobs by June 2009.

SIPTU branch organiser Ciaran Connolly said management told staff this morning that the Arklow plant would close and production would be transferred to Costa Rica over a two-year period. Allergan said the move was due to economic and operational reasons.

The Arklow plant manufactures silicone breast implants. Allergan began operations in Arklow in 1989 and just four years ago, the company announced a €7.4m investment which it said would help create 200 extra jobs.

The company also employs over 750 people at its pharmaceutical plant in Westport, Co Mayo and about 70 people at its European shared services centre in Dublin.

'This decision has been carefully deliberated and while difficult, has been made necessary by the high level of investment required to maintain competitiveness at the Arklow manufacturing location,' commented Raymond Diradoorian, Executive Vice President of Global Technical Operations at Allergan.

'This is a sad day for all of us here in Arklow,' said Paul Moody, General Manager at Allergan Arklow. 'Increased demand means that we have to move manufacturing to a site that has a capability to meet this growing demand,' he added.

Meanwhile. parent company Allergan's fourth quarter financial results, released today, show that it made net profits of $673m last year on sales of almost $4 billion. In the final three months of 2007, it made $185m, up from $156.5m a year earlier, as its quarterly sales topped $1 billion for the first time.