Belfast Telegraph

Firm bucks economic trend with luxury fashion stores fit for a queen

By Clare Weir

Mary Queen of Frocks swapped her crown for a hard hat as she starred in her new Channel Four show donning the livery of a Co Armagh fit-out firm recently.

Retail guru Mary Portas is currently being seen on television launching her own brand of clothing in House of Fraser in Oxford Street, London.

The concession was fitted out by Portadown firm The Deluxe Group, which is making big inroads into the equipping of high-end clothes stores in the city.

The privately owned family business was established by Colum O'Farrell Snr in 1969 and employs around 60 people.

Since the downturn in the construction industry in Ireland north and south, the firm has been diversifying and enjoying a boom in business as a result.

Corin Hawthorne, head of business development with Deluxe, said the firm is specialising in fitting out formal wear shops and concessions.

"As well as the Mary Portas concession, we have worked on a number of other areas in the House of Fraser in Oxford Street, including the Biba concession, and have worked in over 60 House of Fraser stores around the UK in total," he said.

"We also worked on the new Spencer Hart store, a high-end formal menswear outlet, in Brook Street in Mayfair, which is opposite Claridges Hotel and featured in last month's GQ magazine.

Despite the economic downturn, places like Bond Street have no space left and there is still a high demand for luxury.

"The firm has also worked for companies like Oasis, Coast and Mango.

"We've invested half a million pounds in new equipment and are doing really well.

"We were heavily involved in the leisure and hospitality industries in the Republic before the downturn hit and obviously had to look elsewhere for opportunities, but we have made a name for ourselves in London.

"Closer to home we have worked on the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast and the design and fit-out of the new Copan bar and nightclub in Dublin."


The number of House of Fraser stores that the firm have worked in