Belfast Telegraph

One month ago Mivan was a global player in luxury fit-outs ... now 242 staff are gone as firm shuts its gates

By Margaret Canning

Just three weeks ago, Mivan was a byword for high-quality workmanship and luxury flourishes in locations like the QE2 and the Scottish Parliament.

In August, it announced it would be manufacturing European oak wardrobes, staircases and bathroom vanity units for two swish residential schemes in Kensington and Fitzrovia in London. In the 1980s, it became one of Northern Ireland's early export successes with work in Iraq, including adding the finishing touches to one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.

Now Mivan's successes have drawn to a close and the fit-out company has ceased trading after nearly 40 years – just 17 days after its directors appointed administrators to run the business, which was operating in an increasingly tough field.

A total of 242 people have also lost their jobs and will be entitled only to statutory redundancy of around one week's pay for each full year worked, as their former employer is insolvent.

The company employed 289 people when administrators were appointed.

It's understood the remaining 47 will stay on to finish existing contracts.

The administrators had hefty weekly wage bills to pay to the workers – which put prospective buyers under pressure.

Peter Allen, of Deloitte, said: "The company was traded for a period of two weeks, while expressions of interest in the business as a going concern were explored.

"We received a number of indicative offers, but unfortunately no purchaser was able to complete.

"Although the business will now close, we are hopeful that there will be meaningful interest in a packaged sale of the assets.

"We would like to thank the company's employees for their support and professionalism during this time."

Mivan had picked up a cabinetful of trophies for its construction prowess since Ivan McCabrey started the business as a civil engineering student in 1975.

It was the largest general contractor at Disneyland Paris and carried out development for Universal Studios in Orlando.

It has also refurbished luxury liner the QE2 twice, and fitted out the inside of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.

In Jerus- alem, it re-roofed the Dome of the Rock mosque.

Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan said he hoped things could be done to help those affected by redundancy.

"It is a shock that it has happened so quickly, and I am also shocked at how little we are able to do about it," the Ulster Unionist MLA said. "We have to find a way that helps people.

"I spoke with company founder Ivan on the day administrators were appointed, and he was under a lot of stress, but he is an upbeat individual and he will look and find ways forward.

"Staff are well-trained and used to modern technology. With their high skills, we should be able to help them find jobs."

Mivan workers leave in stunned silence


As Mivan workers left the company on the Greystone Road in Antrim they were greeted with grey clouds and heavy rain.

The company's sign still shone bright while passers-by slowed down in their cars, along with people walking past, as they stopped to look at the building as news of the confirmed redundancies spread.

Many workers said they didn't want to talk.

But one woman sorrowfully said: "It's just a real shock."

A man, who did not want to be named, said it was "a difficult time for everyone".

With just a few cars remaining, the area was soon deserted.

It was a sad day for workers and their families as they adjusted to the reality of the news.

A mother, whose son worked for Mivan for several years, said the news had hurt them all.

The 57-year-old woman said: "He loved working there, he absolutely loved it. And he was gutted when he heard the news.

"But he's hoping that there will be something for him."

Her son (34), who has worked with the company for several years as a design technician said he loved his job.

"We knew it was in trouble but we were always hopeful of a buyer. And actually we thought there might have been one, but obviously the big players must have pulled out," he said.

"I loved my job because I was never doing the same thing twice, but hopefully there will be more things in the pipeline."

As well as for workers, the news came as a shock to the people of Antrim.

Resident Tony Fitzsimmons (48) said: "It was known worldwide. I knew people who worked in it and they travelled all over the world.

"I'm sure they are devastated but I haven't got speaking to any of my friends who work there yet. I know myself, I've been made redundant and I know the feeling – I hope everything works out for them."

Belfast Telegraph