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Antrim manufacturer announces plans to create 150 jobs in £10m expansion

Jans Composites was set up in late 2019 after Peter Drayne bought the Wrightbus mouldings and fabrication business.

THE Co Antrim company which bought the composites business from Wrightbus has announced plans to create 150 new jobs by next June.

Jans Composites was set up in October 2019 after Lisburn investor Peter Drayne acquired the Wright Group’s mouldings and metal fabrication division out of administration.

The new manufacturing enterprise has now spawned a group of companies based out of a 10,000 sq metre facility at Caulside Drive in Antrim.

Mr Drayne last year appointed Ronan Hamill to be the new chief executive of the Jans Group. A former global head of composites at Wrightbus, Mr Hamill has also held senior roles at FG Wilson, Terex and premium leisure vehicle manufacturer Overlander.

He said the Jans Group responded to last year’s Covid-19 pandemic by significantly expanding and developing its business operations.

The result has been four new companies, including a lightweight commercial vehicle business (Etrux); an offsite modular construction business, making glamping pods; a finance subsidiary; and retail venture, Jans Lifestyle, which opened on Belfast’s Boucher Road in May, selling everything from camper vans to hot tubs.

The Jans Group includes several new divisions, including an offsite specialist making high spec glamping pods.

The group said £10 million is being invested in further expanding the new entities, with the company’s workforce expected to double to around 300 by June 2022.

“In 2019, there was an opportunity to take what we did and create something much bigger which was rooted in the community,” said Mr Hamill.

“This opportunity has grown exponentially with the formation of various companies under the Jans Group brand, which includes our initial company, Jans Composites.

“We expect these companies to perform very well in the future and have set an ambitious target to achieve a £50 million turnover in the next five years.”

The Jans Group announcement comes as Wrightbus, now under the ownership of Jo Bamford, continues on a major recruitment drive in Ballymena, driven by an investment in low emission technology.

Mr Bamford took over the remnants of the Ballymena bus-making operation in October 2019 with just 56 staff. The group is on course to hit 930 permanent employees by the end of 2022.

Innovation is also behind the growth drive at the Jans Group over in Antrim, now home to the largest CNC cutting machine in Northern Ireland.

Outside its products and services for the north's engineering sector, its increasingly diverse portfolio of design driven products range from its Cuba portable shower and toilet units to high spec glamping pods and houseboats.

The leadership team at Jans Group (L-R): Anne Marie McCartney, MD Jans Finance; Jeff McMullan MD Jans Composites; Ronan Hamill, CEO; Edel Doherty, MD Offsite Solutions; Peter Drayne, group director; Neil Jarvis, MD Jans Lifestyle; Stephen Reid, group commercial director; and Gerard Galvin, MD Etrux.

“Our main aim behind the establishment of Jans Group was to broaden our customer base, bring innovative new products to market and build a business that would support the livelihood of those who work there,” said Mr Hamill.

“Occasionally, those towns outside Belfast can be forgotten about but we want to make Antrim a centre for innovation, creativity, opportunity, and expansion.

“We know that Antrim and the surrounding districts have very skilled workers, and our desire is to provide a working environment that is progressive, forward thinking and innovative for those people.”

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