Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fit-out firm targets expansion after styling some of Dublin's most fashionable night-spots

Contract work south of the border boost profits

MD Ronan Higham
MD Ronan Higham
Pure Fitout worked on House
Belfast's Dog Track restaurant.
Five Guys
Angelina's in Dublin

By Louise Kelly and Emma Deighan

A Northern Ireland fit-out firm is targeting London and Scotland after working on some of the most fashionable night-spots in Dublin.

Pure Fitout, based in Kennedy Way in Belfast, is working on the refurbishment of private members' club Residence at St Stephen's Green as well as the new Devlin hotel in Ranelagh.

Much of its work in the Republic is carried out for key client the Press Up Group, and it can also list chains such as Mexican food business Boojum and fast-food joint Five Guys as customers. In Belfast, it recently worked on the fit-out of House Belfast, the upmarket venue at the former Madison's Hotel on Botanic Avenue.

And the firm reported a turnover of £9.7m despite having been trading just two-and-a-half years.

"By December 2015, we'd done a few jobs in Belfast and a few jobs in Dublin and those jobs set us up fairly well. Those jobs were finished to quite a high standard," said Pure Fitout managing director, Ronan Higham.

The Pure Fitout team has now grown to nearly 50 employees but originally there was a "pretty tight" team of just three.

And Mr Higham has plans to double the workforce given the success of recent negotiations beyond the island of Ireland, in London and Scotland.

"We always have plans to grow. We are a forward-thinking company and we're going to keep growing," he said.

Speaking about future projects, Mr Higham said he will roll out more Five Guys and Boojum fit-outs as well as completing more projects for NolaClan, the owners of House Belfast.

"We've kept those clients because of the good quality of our work, but also due to the good relationships we've developed with Press Up, Boojum and Five Guys. We're pretty can-do people - if there's a problem, we'll just get around it and find a solution."

Mr Higham worked for another fit-out firm previously, leaving in June 2015 to focus on setting up Pure Fitout. An employee with the company at the time organised an introduction with Belfast brothers David and Andrew Maxwell, who had bought Boojum earlier that year.

"We got talking one day over a coffee and they came to us two weeks later with a set of drawings.

"They asked could we price it and we did, so they asked us how quickly we could start. We started about a week later," said Mr Higham.

"It was a pretty rapid turnaround but it's always like that with a fitting.

"A lot of clients ring you on a Friday and hope that you will start on the Monday."

It was the first Five Guys project, in Victoria Square in Belfast, that helped catapult the team to its success.

"This was probably one of my favourites. While we love all of our clients, The Five Guys is very corporate, it's a huge machine.

"For a company like us, who were only going a few months, we got the opportunity to do that project and we did it really, really well."

Looking forward, border issues might be causing some concern for many firms who face the ongoing uncertainty of what a post-Brexit world will bring, but Mr Higham has no such worries.

"Brexit is a bit of a crystal ball for everyone. Who knows what will happen? I'm forever optimistic, we can all live in the doom and gloom, but I expect good things from it," he commented.

"There's a lot of companies going to Dublin, there's a huge market in Dublin for the business we're in.

"We've a few office projects on the go in Belfast and in Dublin. There's a vast amount of work there, a great pipeline and it's only going to get busier."

And while he couldn't divulge the names of upcoming projects in Belfast, he said: "One in particular is a well-known household name."

Belfast Telegraph