Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Fit-out firm's French connection

Deluxe Group seals deal for new restaurant and ride at Paris theme park

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, with Corin Hawthorne and Colm O’Farrell from The Deluxe Group
Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, with Corin Hawthorne and Colm O’Farrell from The Deluxe Group

A fit-out company in Co Armagh is celebrating two contract wins worth €2.5m (£2.1m) with an unidentified theme park operator in Paris.

The Deluxe Group, which was founded in 1969, has been engaged to work on themed fittings for a new ride and restaurant.

The identity of the theme park is confidential – however, the French capital is home to two, Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix. Staff at the Portadown company will design and manufacture their wares at home before they are shipped to Paris for installation.

With around 50 employees, the company has worked on high-end shop fit-outs, many of them abroad, but has also been involved in bar and hotel work in Ireland, including the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast.

Its projects often entail artistically challenging work, such as the sculpture in 2009 of a 30ft Buddha statue for a nightclub in Co Kildare, or the design of angels for a themed bar in Co Navan.

Business development manager Corin Hawthorne said the company had deliberately sought out new markets.

"We would find that the market is fairly competitive at the moment, and quite a few people are struggling, so we are quite keen to promote our success. It's a good boost for ourselves and for the industry," he said.

The firm said its latest success has been down to research and development work which enabled it to develop a new material. The business made an investment of £227,500, which Invest NI backed with £91,000 in support.

Around 18 months ago, the firm reached headlines and TV screens while working with TV star Mary Portas on clothing concessions set up in her name in House of Fraser and other department stores.

It has worked in Doha in the United Arab Emirates, and for clients like Selfridges, Harvey Nicholls, Harrods and iconic New York department store Bloomingdale's.

Mr Hawthorn said: "I think we have diversified quite well and quite strongly, and we have hit the high-end market in London very effectively."

The company had previously worked on the spine-chilling Pyramid of Fear attraction at Terra Mitica theme park in Benidorm, Spain.

It was founded by Colm O'Farrell, whose son of the same name now leads the business.