Ulster Weavers wins major retail business in Canada


Ulster Weavers Ltd in Holywood has won a contract from Canada’s iconic Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for the supply of both catalogue and bespoke designed kitchen co-ordinates that could be worth more than £150,000 within the next 12 months.

The contract is the Holywood company’s first in Canada and is the outcome of its strategic focus on global markets which has included participation in Invest Northern Ireland trade missions.

The new contract was announced by Kenneth Webb, Managing Director of Ulster Weavers, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director. HBC, which is based in Toronto, has retail outlets across the country.

Mr Webb said: “Winning business from such a prestigious customer as the Hudson’s Bay Company gives us a very solid platform for continued growth in key North American markets.

“The Hudson Bay contract is the most recent in a series of significant achievements for Ulster Weavers. Having been appointed a licensee by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, to produce official London 2012 kitchen textiles, Ulster Weavers has created a diverse product range using both the bright and playful colours of the London 2012 palette and the more mature colours of The Olympic Museum Collection.

“Furthermore as one of only two companies in Northern Ireland to hold a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty The Queen, Ulster Weavers proudly offered our customers a choice of two dazzling designs to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“Sales outside Northern Ireland now provide over 95 per cent of our business, and over the past year we’ve achieved a seven per cent growth in turnover which includes additional exports to high-end customers in Germany, France, Italy and Asia Pacific nations such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“This growth is a direct result of our investment in export marketing. We now have five staff based in China and two based in both the US and Great Britain. Our success is based on providing customers with quality products to their specific and often exacting requirements, designed by our expert team in Holywood.

“In addition to the Hudson’s Bay Company, we supply numerous other prestigious clients such as the National Trust, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and John Lewis in Great Britain,” he added.

Dr Kell said: “Securing business from Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest company which has been trading in Canada since 1670, is a marvellous endorsement of the commitment of Ulster Weavers to fast growth outside Northern Ireland.

“Ulster Weavers is a very nimble and responsive business that has moved very successfully from being a manufacturer of textiles to become a design and market-led business that is focused on working with quality conscious clients in providing the products that their customers value.

“The company’s extensive investment in its international business is now producing very worthwhile benefits in many of the world’s most competitive international markets. The investment has positioned this ambitious company for even faster growth in its target markets particularly in the Far East, markets which it has developed through its participation in our extensive trade mission programme.”

Ulster Weavers currently employs 42 people including 25 at its headquarters in Holywood, where its sales customer service, product design and development teams are based. The remaining eight people are employed at its facility in Banbridge where both the apparel and the online internet sales operations are located.