Belfast Telegraph

Carpet firm floors competition with £300k export deal

By Margaret Canning

Carpet from Northern Ireland will adorn a luxury hotel in Dubai as part of a six-figure deal announced by the First and Deputy First Minister.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness unveiled Ulster Carpets' contract with the Burj Al Arab hotel during a visit to the plush venue yesterday.

The pair have joined Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster on a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates and India.

Portadown manufacturer Ulster Carpets provided the Burj Al Arab's carpets 12 years ago - and the renewal of the relationship will see them fit 11,700sqm of new Axminster carpet to guest suites and corridors.

Prices at the all-suite hotel range from $1,000 to $27,000 per night and it was once dubbed "the world's only seven-star hotel" - though the rating has never been made official.

Dubai is famed for its own skill in making hand-knotted silk carpet but a spokeswoman for Ulster Carpets said its "wall to wall" carpets, developed using its own technology, were even more sought-after.

The latest deal is thought to be worth $500,000 (£314,000).

Nick Coburn, managing director of Ulster Carpets, said: "Ulster Carpets has achieved a substantial increase in export markets over the past year.

"The Gulf market is our fastest growing region and we are very proud to have been able to manufacture and supply carpet for the second time to this world-renowned luxurious hotel.

"We continue to strengthen our position as a global market leader and look forward to further developing this important market."

Ulster Carpets opened an office in Dubai three years ago and has a sales team for the region, where its core business is luxury hotels and hospitality areas.

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "To have secured a further contract with this world famous hotel is a tremendous achievement for Ulster Carpets."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "Growing our exports is a key priority in our Programme for Government and is an important objective of our visit to the United Arab Emirates and India.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "Last year Northern Ireland exports to United Arab Emirates topped £100m."

According to Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland's exports to United Arab Emirates (UAE) were worth £100m in 2011. Exports to UAE now account for 46% of exports to the Gulf States, which now total £216m. The other Gulf States are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. In its latest Dubai deal, Ulster Carpets will sell around 11,700sqm of Axminster carpet to luxury hotel Burj Al Arab. Ulster Carpets believes the technology used for its carpet, known as PSYLO, has helped make it sought after in Dubai.