NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ian Pearson, MP, has welcomed the announcement that carpet production at the former Carpets International (CIL) factory in Donaghadee has resumed, following the establishment of a new company, formed by a team of former CIL managers led by Joe Williams.
The new company, Donaghadee Carpets Limited, has secured significant funding to acquire the assets of the factory to launch a new venture with assistance of Invest NI, Enterprise Equity and Ulster Bank.
Commenting on the news Mr Pearson said: “Since the initial unfortunate decision of Carpets International to cease its operations in Donaghadee and Killinchy, I have taken a close interest in developments and have held a number of meetings with the unions, management and locally elected representatives to explore how best to mitigate the effects of the decision.
“Today's announcement is a positive development and offers the prospect of employment for a substantial number of people. It is good news for those individuals, their families and for the North Down area in general.”
Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland commented:
“The management brought forward proposals which offer a viable future for part of what was previously Carpets International, based on higher added-value activities which will retain carpet manufacturing on the Donaghadee site.
“As such, Invest NI was keen to support their proposal and has worked closely with both the management and their advisors to secure this outcome. Invest NI has offered some £2 million in equity and financial assistance to the new company and will work closely with them to develop a sustainable, competitive business going forward.”
“The management team’s approach to building a niche business in a challenging industry impressed us,” said Bob McGowan-Smyth, Chief Executive at Enterprise Equity. “Securing funding in this environment demonstrates the quality of the team’s business plan and we share management’s excitement about this opportunity.”
Joe Williams, who led the management team in the negotiations, said: “We are extremely excited about this opportunity. Our customers have worked with us and waited patiently as we assembled this deal and now we’re ready to get our salesmen and products back into the marketplace. Support from our suppliers has been a key part of building a viable plan and they have been superb. We have orders placed and materials are on the way to the factory.”
He added: “It is envisaged that this move will create 116 jobs at the factory, though these will phase in over the first year. Initially we will hire approximately 65 – 70 employees and add more as the demand picks up later in the year.”