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Co Antrim fit-out firm chief hopes new £17m contracts will help grow workforce

By John Mulgrew

Published 07/12/2015

Hamleys flagship toy store on Regent Street in London
Hamleys flagship toy store on Regent Street in London
Lush, Oxford Street
Smyths in Watford
Ambitious: Les McCracken, managing director

A Co Antrim fit-out firm has secured new contracts worth £17m, including work for the world's oldest toy store Hamleys.

McCue Crafted Fit counts Harrods and the Shangri-La Hotel among its clients.

Its latest deals involve Smyths Toys superstores, with work on Hamleys stores, including those at Heathrow Airport.

It's taken over from where collapsed Ulster firm Mivan left off, working on some of the world's luxury cruise liners.

That includes Cunard's Queen Mary 2 liner in a deal worth more than £1m.

The firm, which has been operating for more than 60 years, is headed by managing director Les McCracken.

He's been with the company for 28 years, joining as general manager.

"Our business is the conversion of existing buildings or fit-out of shell buildings. We would come in when it's brick walls and that's about it. We do the electrics, floor, finishes and surfaces," he explained.

And the high-profile clients are continuing to stack up for a business originally based in Belfast before moving to Carrickfergus in 2002.

Previous work with Hamleys included its flagship store on Regent Street in London, where McCue fitted out the basement with a design to resemble the capital's Tube.

"Our work on the Hamleys toy stores is unlike anything else," Mr McCracken added.

One of the company's biggest contracts in the pipeline for next year is Smyths Toys.

"We have done 10 stores for them this year, and are doing another 10 to 12 next year," Mr McCracken said.

Around 80% of the company's work is in Britain with the rest roughly evenly split between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Turnover last year was £27m. That's grown from £8m since 2002, when the business made the move to its current Carrickfergus site.

On the marine front, Mr McCracken said he was hopeful of other cruise ship work next year, but any deals have yet to be finalised.

The growth in contracts means the company has grown its workforce to 120.

The managing director revealed there were plans to grow the site in Carrickfergus, as well as adding even more jobs.

As far as the hotel sector is concerned, McCue is working in the prestigious so-called five-star plus sector with several projects across some of London's best-known locations.

"We have delivered work in the Savoy, Claridge's, Berkeley, Shangri-La Hotel and the Beaumont, all in the last 18 months," he said.

McCue won a major national award this year for Lush's flagship three-floor store in London's Oxford Street.

Closer to home, it has carried out work on a host of bars in Belfast.

Among the hostelries concerned are The Perch, The Albany and Harp Bar.

Belfast Telegraph

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