Portadown company, Thomas W McDonagh Ltd, has opened a new design studio as part of the company’s investment, backed by Invest Northern Ireland, to enhance their design and marketing capabilities.

The investment, totalling £687,000, was announced by Bruce Robinson, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, during a visit to the company, when he officially opened the studio.

The company currently employs 100 people making furniture mainly for independent retailers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and, with the increased design capability offered by the new facility, is now planning to target the big retail groups in Great Britain. A sharper focus on marketing in the last year has led to increased awareness of its brand in this target market.

Commenting on the new facility Bruce Robinson said: “T W McDonagh is an excellent example of a company that has achieved success through focusing on design, marketing and strong management. The company’s turnover has increased by 50 per cent in the last four years because the management has been rigorous in achieving customer satisfaction through streamlining production and making design central to their operation.

“Invest NI is actively promoting a design conscious culture within local business as part of a wider strategy that focuses on the importance of innovation in improving overall competitiveness.

“As product life-cycles become shorter because of rapid changes in technology and consumer trends and intense global competition, the ability to re-invent through strategic innovation in areas such as design and functionality becomes vitally important.

“This strategy reflects a recognition that now, more than ever before, the strength of an economy is dependent on the creativity, ingenuity and vigour of its people.

“McDonagh’s investment in this new facility and in leading edge design software will allow it to build on the success of its Fusion range of modern furniture which has opened up a new, younger, market and has been a major contributor to the company’s increased profitability.”

Managing Director of Thomas W McDonagh, Terry McDonagh, has worked with Invest NI and its predecessor agencies over recent years to improve the capability of the company and improve workflows and efficiency. Using techniques, such as the theory of constraints, the company was able to cut production bottlenecks, halving the time between order and delivery. The company was also introduced to design consultants and working with them has created new, contemporary designs for its furniture.

Terry McDonagh said: “As a result of the changes we have made in recent years to improve production processes and with the high level of innovative design we can offer, we are now in a position to compete for orders from the very big players in the UK. Feedback from representatives of the big chains who have visited our new design studio has been very positive. We are confident that we can meet the needs of customers who increasingly want products faster to market, and sourced from suppliers who have the ability to meet their design expectations.”