Starplan eyes expansion after five-fold rise in profits
Family-run Northern Ireland furniture firm Starplan has said it may open more stores after a five-fold increase in profits to nearly £500,000.
The company was founded by Mervyn Wilson - who remains as managing director - in Dungannon in 1972.
As well as its factory showroom in the Co Tyrone town, it also has stores in Belfast, Newtownabbey, Coleraine, Bangor and Portadown.
In the 12 months to April 30 2015, the business reported turnover of £16.1m, compared with £17m the year before.
However, pre-tax profit soared from £77,580 to £483,177.
A strategic report by the company's directors filed with the accounts described the performance as "satisfactory".
It added: "The directors are committed to long-term creation of shareholder value by increasing the group's market share through organic growth, including new branch openings."
But the report added that performance in the sector could be hit by factors including the "housing market and demographic trends".
Financial performance at the company has fluctuated since the housing market imploded in 2008.
A recent pre-tax profits low came in the year to April 30 2009, when pre-tax profits were just £30,166. That was down from a high of £789,648 a year earlier.
But from 2010, when pre-tax profits reached £41,646, the profitability of the firm has improved, in line with steady growth in the housing market.
Its stores in England include Wednesbury in the West Midlands, as well as Solihull, Stoke, Warrington and Bolton.
Mr Wilson has reminisced how he started out with a furniture showroom in 1972.
But he concluded that goods weren't being made to a high enough standard, and opened his own factory in 1978.
"After 40 years in business my original priorities and vision haven't changed, but lots of other things have," he writes on the company's website.
"We now have a 150,000 square foot purpose built factory, with state-of-the-art European machinery and a workforce of 150 people (we don't employ outside contractors).
"We are now one of the leading direct-sales bedroom furniture companies delivering to over 15,000 homes in the UK every year.
"However we are still very much a family business who will always put the customer first."
Meanwhile, Sainsbury's has vowed to create a "world-leading" as it tabled an improved £1.3bn offer for Argos owner Home Retail Group. The supermarket giant said its proposed cash-and-shares deal - valuing Home Retail Group at 161.3 pence per share - would create the UK's largest non-food store worth £6bn. But the sale of DIY arm Homebase to Australian firm Wesfarmers is said to be a condition of the deal. There are 13 Sainsbury's stores in the province, and around 20 Argos. It is expected to relocate some Argos stores into Sainsbury's supermarkets as concessions.
Pre-tax profits to April 2015 compared to £77,580 previous year