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Ulster Carpets buys up English loom maker in cash deal

By Rachel Martin

County Armagh carpet manufacturer Ulster Carpets has taken over English machinery maker Griffith Textile Machines in a cash buy as part of a multi-million pound overhaul at the firm.

In its 2015-16 accounts, Ulster Carpets held around £19m of cash. However, it's not known how much was paid for the machinery manufacturer.

GTM, formerly known as Bonas Griffith, makes textile looms and weaving systems.

The Sunderland firm produces looms used by Harris Tweed as well as '3D' weaving looms to make car components.

It comes as Ulster Carpets invests a further £35m in its Portadown factory. The family-owned business, best known for its brands Axminster and Wilton, has more than 75 years of experience in carpet manufacturing and currently employs more than 560 people. Griffith has more than 33 years' experience in making weaving systems and looms.

A spokeswoman for Ulster Carpets said the two companies have had a "long-standing" relationship, adding that the combination of Griffith's skills with Ulster's weaving experience will spur on "significant improvements" in carpet weaving technology - the companies are currently working to develop a faster, more efficient loom.

The acquisition begins the second phase of a £35m regeneration of all woven manufacturing facilities at Ulster Carpets' Portadown site.

Phase one included the completion of a £8m energy-efficient dye house.

The regeneration project hopes to ensure manufacturing remains competitive in Portadown into the future.

David Acheson, Ulster Carpets' head of strategic operations, said: "Ulster's ethos and future plans very much revolve around quality, design excellence and technical innovation, and Griffith Textile Machines fits this perfectly.

"We are delighted to have secured this purchase and are excited about the future prospects as the two businesses combine their skills."

Dave Watson, GTM's managing director, said: "With our shared strategic objectives and being such a clear fit, joining the Ulster Group was an obvious next step for both parties.

"We are thrilled with the rare opportunity to focus on developing innovative solutions based on our joint peerless technology.

"Joining the Ulster Group is the culmination of a 25-year business relationship and will encourage GTM to achieve its maximum potential to the benefit of the group.

"And it reflects Ulster Carpets' desire to continue to broaden the group by selectively adding outstanding businesses when and where the appropriate opportunity arises."

In 2015-16, the group's turnover increased by 6.4% to over £64m.

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