Belfast Telegraph

Businesses urged to emulate star exporter Ulster Carpets

by clare weir

MORE than 60 companies from across Northern Ireland have been hearing how export champions Ulster Carpets are dominating new world markets.

The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with Danske Bank organised the event as part of business support programme Export First.

Nick Coburn, managing director of Craigavon-based Ulster Carpets, shared the company's story of international growth and delegates were also able to take a tour of the Ulster Carpet facilities.

Employing 500 people, Ulster Carpets is a world leader in the manufacture and export of high-quality carpets for sale to the world's best known hotels, casinos and cruise liners.

The firm, which currently holds the title of UK Exporter of the Year, sells 70% of its products abroad and the firm is currently undergoing a £30m re-development programme including a new dyehouse and energy centre.

The Export First initiative, launched in 2011, aims to equip Northern Ireland businesses with the skills to break into new markets or take their export activity to the next level.

Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment, said that her department was fully committed to supporting companies as they seek contracts in international markets.

"By focusing on and winning export business, Ulster Carpets has become a global brand synonymous with high quality craftsmanship," she said.

"Ulster Carpets has made extensive and effective use of Invest Northern Ireland trade missions to develop contacts and the company is an excellent example of how working in partnership can lead to significant success in key export markets."

Ann McGregor, chief executive of NI Chamber, added: "Over the next year Export First will continue to provide support to potential exporters, increase awareness amongst SMEs of existing export schemes and provide assistance to firms seeking new market opportunities by linking them to individuals who have experience in addressing many of the issues and queries encountered by first time exporters."

Katherine James, head of small business at Danske Bank, said that while there is a wealth of growth opportunities outside of Northern Ireland, exporting could often appear to be a daunting process.

She said she was "confident" the bank's programme with the chamber "will lead to more and more local businesses taking the leap."

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