Ulster Carpet Mills continues to trade successfully as Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturer of Axminster and Wilton carpets with its main factory in Portadown but also linked to a Danish joint venture.
The company reports that in the year to March 2010, trading conditions were extremely difficult. Although turnover has again fallen (for the sixth year in the last decade) the company has restructured and reorganised to remain competitive. Total turnover reached a peak in 2002-3 when it was valued at just over £71m. Since then it has tended to fall and in the most recent year, to March 2010, was just over £48m.
The directors’ report draws attention not just to the adverse market conditions with reduced demand but also the adverse movement in material costs of wool, jute and oil. Viability has been achieved through reduced staffing and the use of new technologies to further improve productivity.
For the current trading year, the assessment is that continuing poor demand and rising costs will make it very difficult to achieve an overall profit.
In the immediate future the company believes that the principal risks that it is facing are a combination of the challenge from low cost producers, increasing input costs and an increasing legislative burden. In response, the management task is to continue to improve efficiency and reduce costs whilst avoiding a compromise on the principles of pursuing excellence in service.