Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: Ulster Carpet Mills

Recovery for carpet maker

By John Simpson

Ulster Carpet Mills has reported a significant recovery in business performance in the year to March 2012. The company is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturer of Axminster and Wilton carpets with its main factory in Portadown.

Trading conditions were reported as adverse but showed some recovery from the fall in turnover and profits from 2008 to 2010.

Turnover has improved in each of the last two years after an earlier fall for six years in the last decade but turnover is still slightly below the level in 2007.

The directors' report draws attention not just to the adverse market conditions with reduced demand, but also the adverse movement in material and energy costs.

Turnover rose from £95,000 per employee last year to £110,000 per employee in 2011-12. Value added per employee rose from £37,000 to nearly £44,000.

Looking ahead, the company points to its principal risks as being posed by low cost producers, adding the risks are compounded by an increasing legislative burden as well as input costs.

The directors point to the importance of technical leadership and innovation in sustaining their competitiveness.

In 2007-08 the then final salary pension scheme was amended to offer pensions based on career average earnings. As a result, the deficit, as reflected in FRS 17, was reduced to just over £2m. Since 2008, the estimated pensions' deficit has varied but, in March 2012 was calculated at £3.5m. It is backed by assets valued at £39.7m.

After two years of much smaller dividends to the shareholders, dividends in 2011-12 returned to the level of 2008-09.