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Up to 70 jobs at Ulster Carpets under threat

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Ulster Carpets

Ulster Carpets

Ulster Carpets

Ulster Carpets, one of Northern Ireland's most successful home-grown companies, has said up to 70 jobs are at risk as it takes a major hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Craigavon-based business has been selling luxury carpets around the world for more than 80 years.

But the family firm said it had suffered a hit from a fall-off in international travel, formerly important sources of business for its products.

The company has now entered a formal consultation period with employees and their trade union. It said up to 70 roles at all levels across the group were at risk.

Ulster Carpets has around 300 staff in Craigavon but said the job cuts would affect its operations all around the world.

It also has offices in London, Paris, Germany, Dubai and across the US.

A spokesman for the company said: "The core business of Ulster Carpets is heavily dependent on the hospitality and cruise ship sectors and this is the direct cause for the need to reduce operations.

"Whilst the retail business has recovered well, the onerous restrictions placed on international air travel are likely to impact our key markets for the foreseeable future."

The DUP MP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said she was "saddened" the company was considering redundancies.

"My thoughts are with all the employees and my office will be open to help those impacted in any way I can," she said.

"Ulster Carpet Mills put Portadown on the global map in terms of manufacturing with cutting edge technology and innovation in their sector."

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd added: "It is worrying that Ulster Carpet Mills is now experiencing financial difficulty and jobs are at risk. The continued stream of job losses across many sectors in the North highlights the need for the British Government to extend the furlough scheme beyond its proposed closure in October."

Armagh Lord Mayor Kevin Savage described it as "another devastating blow" to the economy. "I have no doubt that this news will have a significant impact on many families and local businesses, with far reaching consequences throughout the borough," he said.

SDLP Upper Bann Dolores Kelly MLA added: "This demonstrates just how important the hospitality sector is, not just as a job creator but to businesses throughout the supply chain. It's critical that the Executive finds ways to support businesses and workers who need additional help to weather this period."

Belfast Telegraph