Return to profit at Ulster Carpets as it invests in weaving technology

Ulster Carpets has returned to profitability following what it said has been “an extremely encouraging financial year”
Gary McDonald Business Editor

PORTADOWN-headquartered Ulster Carpets has returned to profitability after what it described as “an extremely encouraging financial year” in which it has also made a significant investment in its weaving technology.

The global carpet manufacturer's latest results for the year to March 2022 paint a positive picture after a number of setbacks during the pandemic years.

Its turnover rose from £53.8 million to £68.1 million while its bottom-line profit soared from just £169,119 in 2021 to just shy of £6 million.

Continued success in the US contract market and strong domestic retail sales have been supported by the group’s focus on diversification, with Danish carpet manufacturer Danfloor and unique runners and rugs company Roger Oates Ltd, both performing well.

With strong activity in the UK and European contract markets and signs of recovery in the marine sector, the Portadown-based company says it is looking towards next year’s 85th anniversary with cautious optimism.

In his chairman’s statement, Dr John Wilson said, “Operations were appropriately reduced in response to the pandemic.

“But with demand coming back strongly, 2022-23 will see a period of rebuilding capacity with the commissioning of new weaving technology in our Portadown headquarters and in our factory in the north east of England.

“It will take 12-18 months to really see the benefit of this investment and we expect profitability to be affected in the short term as we wait for new capacity to come on stream.”

He added: “While the pandemic has receded to a large degree, it will take another few years before it is finally behind us.

“The war in Ukraine, damage to global supply chains, energy costs and the strong inflationary wave passing through the world will make for challenging trading conditions in the year ahead.

“Nevertheless, the group is committed to retaining its status as a premium global woven carpet manufacturer.”

Ulster Carpets have invested in new looms.

Ulster Carpets had 608 staff on its payroll at March 31, around in Craigavon and the remainder across its operations in London, Paris, Dubai and across the USA.

This was slightly up on the previous year (583), and it brought the company's wages bill to £24.6 million. Its two key directors were paid £721,300 combined.

In addition to its main production plant in Portadown, the Ulster Carpets Group also incorporates technical textile machinery manufacturer Griffith Textile Machines (GTM); wool processing and dyeing company Ulster Yarns; specialist commercial carpet manufacturer Danfloor; luxury interiors brands Roger Oates and Mourne Weavers; and the recently-acquired Axfelt in Devon, manufacturers of a fully sustainable underlay.

Established in 1938, Ulster Carpets remains family-owned and has grown to become the premier supplier of Axminster and Wilton carpets to the residential, hospitality, marine and casino sectors across the world.