MJM Marine cruises back from pandemic pain with 50 new jobs

Interior sea terrace on one of the cruise ships on which MJM Marine is working
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEWRY firm MJM Marine, which was badly hit by the worldwide slump in the cruise liner industry during the pandemic, plans to recruit 50 staff to help meet a growing order book.

The roles, many of which will be based at the company headquarters in Carnbane business park, include designers, technical engineers, contracts managers, assistant contracts managers, project planners and other support roles.

MJM specialises in fitting out the interiors of luxury vessels and has refurbished many cruise ships including the world's biggest liner, Royal Caribbean's “Wonder of the Seas”, which made its maiden voyage in March.

When the pandemic struck at the start of 2020, ports around the world began closing to passing cruise liners and the entire tourism sector slumped.

MJM Marine's chief executive Gary Annett recalls: “We were approaching £120 million in orders, but one particular afternoon in March wiped out 95 per cent of that in an instant.

“It was difficult, but our team realised the enormity of the task we faced to resize the business. The possibility of going into a lockdown was something many thought would be a few weeks, but it was clear the impact on our core industry would be significant as weeks soon became months.”

MJM Marine had to arrange for several hundred of its project staff on international projects to fly home during a period when demand for flights was high, and as people looked to return home before any borders were closed. It also needed to divert materials stored and in transit around the world back to its headquarters.

The firm made a significant number of redundancies, whilst availing of the furlough scheme to help retain and protect as many jobs as possible.

Despite the current controversy around the protocol, the main Brexit issue for MJM has been its inability to hire staff from across Europe, where it traditionally competed for skilled employees with other marine suppliers in countries like Italy, Germany Spain.

But as part of its international expansion, MJM has now opened up an office in the Polish shipbuilding city of Gdansk, though is keen to add to its local workforce in Newry.

The firm's human resources director Elizabeth O'Connor said: “We are looking forward to seeing ambitious and talented people joining our team over the next few months as we continue to grow and expand at an exponential rate.”

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