On a snowy day in January, SMG left behind the cold English weather to experience the warm welcome of Northern Ireland with a visit to the Ulster Carpets factory in Portadown. We were keen to learn what makes Ulster Carpets such a success story in this difficult financial climate and how has it gone from a small local business to an international powerhouse.
We were greeted by sales director Jeremy Wilson, managing director Nick Coburn CBE and chairman, Edward Wilson and from them and the amazing staff at the company we learned all about the history and expertise of carpet weaving at Ulster Carpet Mills.
The business started in 1938 with acquisition of a textile mill in Portadown by George Walter Wilson – at a time of world financial and political turmoil he had the bravery to invest locally and sow the seeds for carpet making business that has now become a company with sales and design offices in around the world.
Concentrating on quality, innovation and efficiency Ulster Carpets began developing a carpet weaving operation that has evolved, developed and never been afraid of change. The technology they have embraced has allowed them to thrive in a sector where other manufacturers have found producing in the UK to be untenable. They have recently invested in a state of the art dyehouse which is just the latest project in a long line that has meant that the whole process is so slick and automated that costs, wastage and environmental impact are kept to a minimum.
They have plans of ongoing investment in the factory to ensure that their production techniques and quality mean that they will continue to not only compete but thrive in a 21st century world.
As you walk around the factory and talk with the skilled workforce, many having been in the business for 40 years or more, you can see the passion and commitment they have to making among the best axminsters and wiltons in the market today.
From the residential stock ranges to the zingy vibrant works of art that go around the world to grace the floors of top hotels, casinos, cruise ships and palaces Ulster has something for everyone and every budget.
If the opportunity arises to visit Ulster Carpets, I would urge SMG Members to embrace the chance – you will see British manufacturing at its very best.
SMG would like to thank everyone at Ulster Carpets for the warmest welcome and for making our visit there so memorable and informative. We now know what makes every Ulster Carpet a work of art!
For information on Ulster products visit ulstercarpets.com or call 028 3833 4433.