Company report: Ulster Carpet Mills Holdings Ltd
Ulster Carpet Mills has reported another record trading profit in 2014-15, during which the operating plants ran at nearly full capacity for much of the year.
The chairman reports that sales were slightly lower, but increased in most areas in which the company has done business. The company is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturer of Axminster and Wilton carpets. The main factory is in Portadown, but the company also shares in a Danish joint venture.
Turnover in the last year fell by 2% from the recent record levels of the previous year. Operating profits improved again and exceeded 10% of the value of sales.
Pre-tax profits in 2014-15 improved by 9% compared to the previous year. Pre-tax profits were lower than in 2013-14, but this comparison is distorted as a result of an exceptional addition to profits of £2.5m in a pension funds adjustment in the earlier year. Underlying pre-tax profits have been improving in line with operating profits.
The company report draws attention to the adverse market conditions, where competitors were offering cut prices. The company continued a major investment programme. The first phase of a £30m redevelopment plan has commenced and will deliver a complete renewal of most of the infrastructure and buildings in Portadown, along with investment in new automated technologies.
Employment in the company increased slightly to 532 people. After some years of modest dividends to shareholders, dividends of £1m were allocated in 2013-14, followed by £1.2m in 2014-15.