Belfast Telegraph

£18m school boost for Tyrone builder's McAvoy Group

By Margaret Canning

Co Tyrone mobile building business McAvoy Group has signed a deal worth £18m to work on a school in England.

And the Dungannon company, which had £33m in turnover during 2014 and employs 150 people, has also secured preferential bidder status on a second big school project which is worth a further £18m.

It is one of the few construction-related companies in Northern Ireland with a woman at the helm.

Orla Corr is the company's executive chairperson.

Her late father, Seamus, who founded the business, was murdered during the Troubles.

McAvoy yesterday confirmed it had signed the contract to build Goresbrook School in London, in the borough of Barking and Dagenham.

And it has also said it is in the running for another £18m project at Lynch Hill Enterprise Academy Trust in Slough.

Managing director Eugene Lynch said off-site construction was an "ideal" method of meeting the demand for new schools in England.

"Our growing reputation across the UK for the quality of the school buildings we deliver has resulted in significant success across a number of major frameworks that have been established for the delivery of schools funded through the Education Funding Agency," he added.

"In the past three years, we have completed 12 projects worth £81m under the auspices of these frameworks."

He also said that changing policies on school buildings were working to the firm's benefit: "These are exciting and challenging times for our business as our off-site methods of construction and smart build techniques continue to be embraced by education authorities throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

"We are proud of our progress to date and will continue to develop our skills set to ensure our specialist provision across our various operating sectors is one of the best throughout Great Britain and Ireland."

In the 10 months to October 31, 2014, the McAvoy group had turnover of £33.6m, down from £41.6m a year earlier.

But its pre-tax profits of £489,000 for the 10-month period were up on a loss of £1.8m in the 12 months to October 31, 2013.

In its report, the company said the firm's order levels for 2014 "were continuing at an encouraging rate".

And it said its aim was to increase market share in the UK and Ireland.

It hopes to do so by securing new contracts and developing operational capability and expertise in the sector.

But the firm cautioned that while demand for its products was increasing, it found that the availability of funding remained "challenging".

McAvoy Group founder Seamus McAvoy was murdered by the IRA in 1985 at his second home in Donnybrook, Dublin, over his supplying of building materials to security forces in Northern Ireland. His daughter, Orla, who has helped bring the firm her father founded to even greater success, has spoken of "adversity" as a great motivator in business. "The company was founded by my father 40 years ago on June 12," she told a seminar in 2012. "Sadly, when I was 18 he was killed as a result of the Troubles."

Belfast Telegraph