Ulster Carpet Mills
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.