Belfast Telegraph

Blind maker's £4m expansion will double firm's workforce in Magherafelt

By John Mulgrew

A Co Londonderry window blinds maker which counts John Lewis among its clients is creating almost 100 new jobs - more than doubling its workforce.

Bloc Blinds, which has a new headquarters in Magherafelt, is investing £4m in its latest expansion.

It specialises in the design and manufacture of window blinds and recently moved into renovated and extended new premises at Station Road, after being based at Draperstown.

Around 15 of the 93 new jobs are already in place, while the rest will be recruited over the next three years.

It currently employs 69 staff.

Cormac Diamond, managing director of Bloc Blinds, said: "This exciting investment follows encouraging business growth in recent years and underpins our ambition to increase sales, particularly in Europe and the US."

He said the new facility would allow the business to expand into fresh markets.

"Our new manufacturing facility brings the current Bloc Blinds lines under the one roof, which will help increase production and operating efficiencies," he said.

"The support and advice of Invest NI so far has been invaluable and its support with this expansion will ensure that we have the resources and skill set in place to achieve our goals."

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "Bloc Blinds is a growing, innovative business and this announcement is welcome news for Magherafelt and the local manufacturing industry.

"The significant investment in new premises, recruitment of the new staff and increased marketing and development activities will help Bloc Blinds position itself as a global player in the window covering market.

"The 93 new manufacturing jobs to be recruited over the next three years will contribute £1.7m annually in additional salaries to the economy. With full manufacturing and multi-skilled training provided to all production employees at Bloc Blinds, this expansion offers attractive roles for those returning to work or seeking alternative employment."

Bloc Blinds supplies a number of retailers, including John Lewis.

In 2014, it won a major supply deal with the UK department store chain.

Bloc Blinds supplies John Lewis customers with cordless blackout skylight blinds and its 'Fabric Changer' product. Invest NI is putting forward £465,000 towards the new posts.

The business grew after Mr Diamond spotted a gap in the market during the credit crunch. He developed an interchangeable roller blind system, which lets customers change the fabric without having to remove the entire frame.

And the firm's expansion is being supported by First Trust Bank.

Edel McCooe, regional director, First Trust Bank, said the business "has built up a strong reputation as an innovator due to their clever, precise designs and solutions and this is being reflected in their growing customer base right across the UK, Europe and America". "We have supported Cormac and his vision for the company over the last 10 years and we are delighted to back their latest growth and expansion phase, which is creating skilled jobs for local people and helping to ensure Northern Ireland's prowess for innovative manufacturing solutions is known world-wide."

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