Tyrone businessman reveals new plans to breathe new life into former McAvoy site

The former McAvoy headquarters on the Ballynakilly Road, near Coalisland, which has been acquired by Kevin McCabe's Quarrytech group.
Ryan McAleer

THE former McAvoy site in Coalisland is to be brought back to life after being acquired by Tyrone businessman Kevin McCabe.

The former GAA All-star turned engineering entrepreneur bought the extensive site from the offsite modular specialist, including its 91,350 sq ft headquarters, in December 2020.

It's understood the deal, which included all land and buildings, was completed in the region of £3.76 million.

The deal was made in the same month the businessman acquired the former Otter Lodge restaurant in Cookstown.

The sale of McAvoy's headquarters came just ten months after London-based private equity firm Blantyre Capital acquired the controlling interest in the struggling construction business.

Part of the efforts to turn the fortunes of the manufacturer around involved centralising operations at McAvoy's site in Lisburn.

Speaking to The Irish News, Kevin McCabe confirmed that his Quarrytech group had acquired the site.

The group includes the Harpscreen and Terramac engineering subsidiary companies.

Set up in 1997, Harpscreen is now the largest woven wire quarry screens manufacturer in the UK and Ireland. But Mr McCabe said the company had outgrown its current site at the Granville industrial estate near Dungannon.

He confirmed that the engineering company would be relocating to the former McAvoy site.

Harpscreen is now in the process of selling its Granville site.

“It gives us more space and there's room for expansion," he said.

The businessman is now seeking a window in the business calendar to make the major move.

“We're very busy at the moment, even with covid. The problem will be finding a window when our customers are closed."

The fact the former McAvoy site backs onto Terramac Fabrication's operation on the Gortgonis Road, near Mr McCabe's native Clonoe, is another bonus.

The engineering boss said the group is exploring options to potentially link both sites.

But he said Harpscreen would take over just one-third of the site, with the rest, including a second plant and the expansive offices, leased out to other businesses.

Negotiations are ongoing with a number of interested parties.

“It's a top-class really well-finished site and there's already considerable interest,” he said.

Mr McCabe said it will in effect become a new business park.

He oversaw a similar project in Haydock near St Helens in England, which was branded ‘Tyrone House'.

Commenting on the deal to buy Otters Lodge in Cookstown, Mr McCabe said he had not intended in expanding his business interests into hospitality, but said the listing, which includes a family home along the Ballinderry River, was very attractive.

Speaking from the idyllic location, he said designers were now on board to draw up plans to breathe new life into the licensed restaurant.

The venue is unlikely to reopen until 2022.

“It's hard to get anything done with this lockdown,” he said. “But it'll be a considerable project. It will be a total refurbishment.

“We would like to be open by Christmas, but in reality we'll need at least six to nine months to complete the project.”

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