Belfast Telegraph

Industrial covers firm wins coveted Queen's Enterprise Award for sales

By Margaret Canning

A Co Londonderry company that sells industrial covers globally has won a Queen's Award for Enterprise. Cunningham Covers, which employs 62 people in Maghera, is one of 176 UK firms named in the awards marking the Queen's 91st birthday today.

It has received the Queen's Award International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth for building impressive sales in the last three years. It's the only NI winner this year.

Generator maker AJ Power and Devenish Nutrition were honoured last year.

Sales outside the UK have grown by 77% since 2011, with export deals including the manufacture of protective covers for pipelines to carry natural gas from Russia to Turkey.

It has also developed protective enclosures for oil drilling operations in the Caspian Sea and the Ivory Coast in Africa.

Overall, exports now account for over half of all sales - up from 29% in 2011.

Managing director David Cunningham said: "We are delighted to have won such important recognition for our sales especially to markets such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with our success being deeply rooted in Northern Ireland.

"The Northern Ireland market remains immensely important to us.

"We value greatly our customer base here and are committed to respond quickly and effectively to existing and potential customers in this market.

"We also see opportunities to expand our products worldwide, particularly in oil and gas exploration."

He said the award also recognised the achievements of the company's workforce.

"We've focused resources on developing the skills of employees and in encouraging them to build careers within the business," he said.

"As a result, we have a dedicated and versatile workforce which enables us to respond quickly to opportunities both here and abroad."

Gordon Cunningham, now chairman, founded Cunningham Covers in 1960 after working in the haulage industry.

At first he produced covers for a local manufacturer, before starting to supply other businesses and seeking contracts overseas.

Now its covers are used in industries including transport, manufacturing, food, oil and gas.

Mr Cunningham snr started as a sole trader before incorporating in 1989. Its awards citation states: "Exporting to almost 30 different markets around the world and seeing sales outside Northern Ireland grow by 77% over the past six years, it remains a family-owned and managed business."

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