Tobermore announces £30m expansion following pandemic boom in paving products

L-R: Tobermore managing director David Henderson takes Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Invest NI boss Kevin Holland (centre) on a tour of his factory. Picture By Justin Kernoghan.
Ryan McAleer

THE head of south Derry concrete products firm Tobermore has said a decision to invest £30 million in expanding the business during the coronavirus pandemic is in part due to a massive surge in demand for its consumer paving products during lockdown.

Announcing 95 new jobs on Wednesday, David Henderson said the company experienced its busiest June on record this year.

He said home improvement projects have helped push its 2020 revenues 17 per cent up on last year, when the firm broke the £50m turnover barrier for the first time in its 80-year history.

“We have seen a real boom in the past few months, it has gone mad,” said the managing director.

“We have never seen demand like it. June was the most incredible month we ever had by far, we were so busy.”

The company currently employs just over 300 people. Much of the growth has been across the Irish Sea, with Tobermore securing a deal with Britain’s largest builders’ merchants, Travis Perkins.

The commercial side of the business is also growing in GB. Despite the impact of Covid-19, Mr Henderson said the market had recovered reasonably.

Current projects include a £250,000 deal to supply paving blocks for the new Douglas Promenade on the Isle of Man.

“When the pandemic struck, I genuinely thought it was the end of the world,” said Mr Henderson.

“The truth is we didn’t want to take people on because we didn’t know what the effects of the pandemic would be.

“But we have been so overwhelmed with business that we’re recruiting. We had to respond.”

Invest NI have offered £807,500 to support its growth plans. Some 25 of the 95 new jobs have already been filled.

The additional 70 roles will be created in areas including sales, operations and production.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds, who visited the factory on Wednesday, said once filled, the 95 roles will generate almost £2.5m in additional annual salaries.

“It is investments like this which will drive our economic recovery forward,” she said.

“It’s a huge investment in the company, a huge investment in the local economy and the wider Northern Ireland economy, driven by the sales performance in GB and by the quality and variety of the products they make.”

Chief executive of Invest NI, Kevin Holland, said: “Supporting businesses with the greatest potential to grow is vital to helping our economy to move forward.

“We have worked with Tobermore over many years, and recognised the potential the company had to scale rapidly.”

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