Belfast Telegraph

Belfast firm wins £2.5m contract to refurbish liner

By Simon Rowe

Belfast-headquartered ship refurbishment company Blu Marine has secured a contract worth £2.5m with a major Australian cruise line operator.

The international firm has been contracted to carry out a complete pool deck refurbishment on a vessel owned by cruise ship giant Carnival Australia.

Managing director Craig McCoo said he is "excited" about the deal and praised the local talent pool available to marine outfitters in Northern Ireland.

Mr McCoo said he is now set to increase his workforce of 15 at Belfast Harbour Estate to keep pace with demand.

Blu Marine specialises in 'fast-track' refurbishment of luxury cruise ships. The firm has just completed a £1m fit-out project on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth ocean liner which involved 425 cabin refurbishments and 30,000 sq metres of carpet laid in just 17 days.

The firm, which is going through a period of "controlled growth" which will see annual revenues exceed £6m this year, has set its sights on China where the cruise ship market is booming, said Mr McCoo.

"Blu Marine has been growing continually year on year since its establishment in 2007," said Mr McCoo. "We are now well placed to compete with the best marine outfitting companies in the world.

"The award of this contract by Carnival Australia is not only good news for Blu Marine, but also for Northern Ireland as a whole. We are continually recruiting local staff from the high calibre available in Northern Ireland and partnering with local suppliers to achieve excellence," he said.

Blu Marine, which employs six in Southampton and two at its Hong Kong base, counts Cunard, Irish Ferries and P&O Irish Sea among its international clients.

The collapse of its rival, Mivan, which went in administration in January, sent shockwaves through the industry. "When Mivan hit the ropes we quietly battened down the hatches and got more focused," said Mr McCoo.

Blu Marine weathered the storm that hit the industry and is now riding the crest of a wave internationally, he added.

Work on the £2.5m cruise ship refurbishment in Australia will begin in Sydney in December but there are months of surveying and prefabrication design work to be done first, he said.

The firm's Belfast's works include joinery, upholstery and metal fabrication, a project office, warehousing and logistics.

Belfast Telegraph