Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Carpets chairman Edward Wilson calls time after 58 years with firm

Edward and Primrose Wilson
Edward and Primrose Wilson
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are given a tour of Ulster Carpets in Portadown by Nick Coburn, the firm's managing director
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The chairman of one of Northern Ireland's best known companies, Ulster Carpets, has retired after 58 years.

Edward Wilson is the son of Jean and George Walter Wilson, who founded the Portadown company 81 years ago.

He is credited with turning the manufacturer into one of Northern Ireland's biggest exporters and the largest single-site producer of Axminster and Wilton carpet in the world.

His retirement follows a record year for Ulster Carpets, which now boasts a client list from casinos and high-end hotels in Dubai and the US.

Ulster Carpets saw its revenues rise 11.5% to £76m in 2018, with pre-tax profits soaring nearly 60% to £10.4m.

Mr Wilson, who turns 79 this month, followed his older brothers Walter and John into the family business in 1961.

He worked in sales and planning before becoming managing director and eventually chairman, earning a reputation for his diplomacy, patience and people skills.

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He was also well-known for his daily tour of the business, speaking to staff at every level and keeping apprised on the latest orders and industry developments.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Wilson said his walks on the factory floor to speak with staff were among the greatest pleasures of his life. "As I have been reminded so many times, one of the biggest selling points of Ulster Carpets is our wonderful workforce - people who are passionate about what they do," he said. "When my father started Ulster Carpets in 1938, I'm sure he never thought that the company would still be here over 80 years later, employing people not just in Northern Ireland but across the world.

"For that success, I must pay tribute to our wonderful staff and that is something I take great pride in."

Ulster Carpets will continue to be a family-run operation through Mr Wilson's nephews, Nick Coburn as group managing director and John Wilson as chairman.

Belfast Telegraph