Thompson Aero Seating briefs industry on fresh plans for growth

Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown is back in growth mode after the pandemic, members of the Makers Alliance have been told

PORTADOWN-based Thompson Aero Seating has briefed industry members on its plans for growth as it begins to emerge from the worst of the pandemic.

Members of the Makers Alliance, a body representing the north's manufacturing industry, were given an insight into its recovery strategy during a site visit to the plant.

They were shared confidential details around Project Phoenix, a programme of developments and projects which are transforming Thompson and preparing the business for continued success and growth.

And it is understood that Thompson - which was forced to lay off hundreds of workers in the last 18 months as Covid decimated the global aviation industry - will make those plans public in the coming weeks.

Neil Taggart, vice president and general manager of Thompson Aero Seating, told the Irish News: “Project Phoenix is a key driver in our plans for the future and deep recovery following the effects of the global pandemic.

“Focused on reshaping the business and using innovation to transform processes and maximise efficiencies, Project Phoenix has created a more agile company which is positioned for further success and growth in the global aerospace industry.”

Thompson, which designs and manufactures premium business class seats for commercial airlines at sites in Portadown, Carn and Banbridge, laid off 350 contract workers at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Three months later it revealed that up to 500 permanent staff could be made redundant as annual losses more than quintupled from £23 million to £121 million.

And earlier this summer the company said it is shedding another 180 jobs, roughly a quarter of its workforce.

But as global flying opens up again it is understood Thompson, which is owned by the China Aviation Industry Corporation, has seen its fortunes reverse.

Running as a leaner company, it is actively recruiting for a range of specialist roles following a number of recent and significant global contract awards.

“We've been hugely impressed by what we have seen and heard at Thompson,” Makers Alliance joint chief executive Mark Nodder said after the Seagoe factory visit.

“It speaks volumes about the company's leadership and its people that it has been able to reimagine its business and plan once again for growth.

“Epitomising the best of advanced manufacturing in Northern Ireland, it has faced challenges head-on, using innovation as a way to transform its business and place it in a position of strength for the future.”

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