Ul­ster Car­pet Mills

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News -

Ul­ster Car­pet Mills has re­ported a fur­ther record trad­ing profit in 2017-18 dur­ing which the chair­man re­ports that the oper­at­ing plants ran at full ca­pac­ity. Sales in­creased in most of the ar­eas in which the com­pany does busi­ness.

The firm is North­ern Ire­land’s largest man­u­fac­turer of Axmin­ster and Wilton car­pets.

The main plant is in Por­ta­d­own but the com­pany also has shares in a Dan­ish joint ven­ture. In ad­di­tion, in the year 2016-17, the group bought two other busi­nesses: Roger Oates De­sign and Grif­fith Tex­tile Ma­chines.

Turnover last year con­tin­ued to in­crease and reached over £76m. Oper­at­ing prof­its re­cov­ered sharply af­ter a small de­crease in the pre­vi­ous year. At £10.6m, oper­at­ing prof­its were a record 14% of turnover.

The group is in the healthy po­si­tion that pre-tax prof­its in the last two years have been higher than oper­at­ing prof­its, re­flect­ing a modest net cost of in­ter­est on bor­rowed funds.

The chair­man re­peats a claim made in ear­lier years about the suc­cess­ful rep­u­ta­tion of the group where cus­tomers of Ul­ster Car­pets “un­der­stand (that) the real value of a prod­uct does not lie solely in the pur­chase price”. This helps to ex­plain the com­pet­i­tive strength of this group where com­peti­tors were of­fer­ing cut prices which do not re­flect the real costs of de­sign and man­u­fac­ture.

The com­pany is now ben­e­fit­ing from its re­cent ma­jor in­vest­ment pro­gramme. This has de­liv­ered a ma­jor re­newal of the in­fra­struc­ture and build­ings in Por­ta­d­own along with in­vest­ment in new au­to­mated tech­nolo­gies.

Em­ploy­ment in the com­pany in­creased fur­ther to 666 peo­ple.

Div­i­dends to share­hold­ers of £1.65m were al­lo­cated in 2017-18 which was higher than an al­lo­ca­tion of £1.32m a year ear­lier.

The group re­ports a sig­nif­i­cant fall of £1.5m in the net deficit in its de­fined ben­e­fit pen­sion plan. The group has also made an ar­range­ment with the pen­sion trus­tees to make a se­ries of an­nual pay­ments to help off­set the deficit in some years ahead.

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