| 7.2°C Belfast

Firm pumps funds into research plans

Engineering firm Munster Simms has announced plans to invest more than £3m in research and development to help it increase sales in markets outside Northern Ireland by £8m a year.

The Bangor-based company, which designs and manufactures pump and plumbing products for caravans, boats and the healthcare industry is known under its brand name Whale. It currently employs 128 people and trades in 48 countries.

Patrick Hurst, managing director of Munster Simms, said the investment is intended to help the company expand "dramatically" in the next couple of years.

"In the past three years innovation has been central to the business strategy and is one of the reasons, despite the economic gloom, why the business has been doing so well. Indeed, for the first quarter of 2010 the company has recorded its highest order book on record," he said. "We estimate that within three years, the specific products under development will add more than £8m of new sales per year for the company and will open up significant opportunities in new, diverse sectors."

The firm has recently completed a new production area, assisted by Invest NI funding, which houses advanced manufacturing processes and will be used in the development and manufacture of the new product ranges.

The development agency is also contributing £700,000 of support, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to assist with the projects which will specifically focus on the creation of highly innovative heating components for water and air, along with advanced pumping systems for the global marine and recreational vehicle markets.

Speaking as she visited the company to open its new factory extension, Tracy Meharg, Invest NI's Managing Director of Innovation said: "This latest investment in R&D will help Munster Simms to meet growing demand for highly innovative plumbing and heating products which deliver cutting edge performance, cost effectiveness and further strengthen its market position."

She added: "Research and development is crucial to the sustainability and success of all companies, regardless of size or industry sector, particularly as international markets remain highly competitive. Through this project, Munster Simms is setting firm foundations for continued growth and success in the UK, Europe and North America."