Category Archives: News

Hitting the right notes at Blossom Children’s Ward

Children at Craigavon Area Hospital have been enjoying unique music sessions thanks to a long-term relationship between the Ulster Orchestra and Ulster Carpets.

These special two-hour sessions at the Blossom Children’s Ward are a mixture of music making workshops for children who are able to gather in their reception area, as well as some bedside visits for those children who can’t leave their ward/room.

Linzi Hughes, Ward Manager at Blossom Children’s Ward, said, “These sessions have been so beneficial to our patients, their parents and even our staff and we want to thank the Ulster Orchestra and Ulster Carpets for making this happen.

“Those waiting in reception can be feeling anxious ahead of an appointment, but the beautiful music created a real sense of calm. For our long-term patients and those with complex sensory needs, they benefit from this wonderful music therapy.”

Ulster Orchestra freelance musician, Cecily Smith Nesbitt, who regularly delivers learning and community engagement activity for the Orchestra, leads this wonderful project which forms one part of the Orchestra’s wider learning and community engagement activity across Northern Ireland.

Lucy McCullagh, Ulster Orchestra’s Head of Community Engagement and Grants, explains, “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to connect with children, their caregivers and staff on the Blossom Ward in Craigavon Hospital. Listening to and actively participating in live music has a healing quality that can improve wellbeing and mental health which is so important for children and their caregivers during a hospital stay of any length. Thanks to Ulster Carpets for their support in making this possible.”

As part of their ongoing commitment to community projects, Ulster Carpets have been supporting the important outreach work of the Ulster Orchestra for over a decade.

Nick Coburn, Managing Director, Ulster Carpets, comments, “It is a real privilege to see the connections that Ulster Orchestra’s amazing music creates with the children on the Blossom Ward as part of this wonderful new initiative.

“We have supported the work of the Ulster Orchestra for many years and as a local employer we are proud to help extend important engagement like this that makes a tangible difference within the community.”

Long-term investment in youth rugby

We have agreed a new sponsorship deal with Ulster Rugby, which will see us continue to support the province’s youth game through to the 2027/28 season.

Building on twelve years of partnership, the Ulster Carpets Club/School Window and Ulster Carpets Community Outreach Programme are set to further develop young players from across the province in the years ahead.

As the Governing Body for the sport in the province, Ulster Rugby introduced the Club/School Window as a participation programme that allows young players, who would normally only play in a school setting, to join in activity at their local club in March and April as a new way to experience the game at the end of the Schools’ season.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Carpets Community Outreach Programme takes the game to new participants, and offers an introduction to the game through a programme of school or community-based coaching sessions.

Ulster Carpets will also have an in-stadium presence at the club’s home ground for all Senior Men’s games.

Group Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, Nick Coburn, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the next generation of rugby players by agreeing this five-year sponsorship of both Ulster Rugby’s Community Outreach Programme and their Club/School Window initiative.

“For over 85 years, we have had an ethos of supporting our local communities and, in particular, we see real value in helping our young people develop important skills such as teamwork.”

Head of Commercial at Ulster Rugby, Keith Shorten, added: “We are grateful to Ulster Carpets for their continued investment in growing our grassroots game across the province, which will see thousands of young people continue to enjoy playing rugby in the seasons ahead.

“As our rugby coaches travel across Ulster to deliver the sponsored participation programmes, it is fitting that it will be with the support of a local partner who understands the importance of a pipeline of talented young players for what we are aiming to achieve as both the Governing Body for the sport and a professional rugby club.”


Pictured at the recent launch of the new sponsorship are Gerry Lafferty, Rugby Participation Officer at Ulster Rugby, Oran Gilbert, CCRO at Randalstown RFC, Dean Talbot, Rugby Participation Officer and CCRO at Rainey RFC, and, from Ulster Carpets, Cara Coburn, Business Development Manager, and Rory Somerville, Group Treasury and Acquisition Manager.

Scholarship launch at Queen’s in memory of innovative pioneer

The spirit of innovation epitomised by Walter Wilson will be harnessed by the next generation of engineers at Queen’s University thanks to a new scholarship funded by Ulster Carpets.

Thanks to the new initiative, each year the Ulster Carpets Walter Wilson Scholarship will support two students who face social or economic barriers to higher education to join the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Engineering students Ellen-Jane Boyd and Jack Smyth will be the first recipients of the £7,500 annual bursary which will support them during their education.

The late Walter Wilson (centre) pictured at the 75th anniversary celebrations with the then Chairman Edward Wilson (left) and current Managing Director, Nick Coburn. The new scholarship at Queen’s University will honour his spirit of innovation.

The eldest son of company founder George Walter Wilson, Walter became Managing Director of Ulster Carpets in 1954 aged just 24 and he remained involved in the business in various capacities until his death in 2014.

Known for his drive for innovation, understanding of design and having an eye for future trends, Walter’s passion for engineering remains instilled in the successful company that is still owned and run by the Wilson family.

John Wilson, Chairman of Ulster Carpets and Walter’s nephew, said the scholarship is a fitting tribute to Walter’s impact on the company.

“Walter was a real pioneer, and it was his vision that transformed Ulster Carpets from a minnow within the competitive UK carpet industry into what we are today – one of the largest and most successful producers of woven carpet in the world.

“In order to retain our position as a world-leader, we need people with Walter’s innovative spirit and passion for engineering. We are delighted to work with such an acclaimed university as Queen’s to provide more opportunities for students to unlock their potential and make a real difference.”

As part of the scholarship, the students will have the opportunity to spend up to two weeks of paid work experience at Ulster Carpets’ global headquarters in Portadown.

Assistant Director of Philanthropy at Queen’s, Helen Carrick, said: “The support of companies such as Ulster Carpets for young people who have had to overcome social or financial barriers to access higher education is hugely important. This kind of backing can change lives and we are extremely grateful for the generous and meaningful investment in our young people.”

Speaking about the scholarships, Professor Juliana Early, Head of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Aerospace and Manufacturing said: “We are delighted to be working with Ulster Carpets on the launch of the Walter Wilson Scholarship. This scholarship will not only provide financial support for our future engineering talent, but will also provide valuable hands on experience in a vibrant company and the opportunity to work alongside industry experts fostering innovative thinking and entrepreneurship.”

Mary Montgomery, one of Walter Wilson’s daughters (centre), with the first recipients of the Ulster Carpets Walter Wilson Scholarship – Jack Smyth (second left) and Ellen-Jayne Boyd (second right). Also included are John Wilson, Chairman of Ulster Carpets (left), and Paul Hermon, Senior Lecturer (Education), at Queen’s University.

Icon of the Seas – our largest-ever Marine project

We are on the crest of a wave after completing our largest-ever cruise ship project.

Classed as the world’s best family location, Icon of the Seas set sail for the first time last weekend (27th January) on a seven-day voyage in the Caribbean.

This game-changing cruise ship from Royal Caribbean International is 365 metres long, is 250,800 gross tons, and has a capacity of 5,610 guests and 2,500 crew. It also features over 55,000sqm of bespoke carpets designed and manufactured by Ulster Carpets.

Rachel Guy, Contract Sales Director for Marine at Ulster Carpets, explained, “Icon of the Seas has been making headlines all over the world and we are very proud to have played a part in this amazing cruise ship.

“As a project, it challenged our design, planning and production teams like never before, but the final results demonstrate our ability to create unique designs and luxury carpets. This is why cruise ships, casinos and hotels around the world turn to us first for their bespoke carpets and rugs.”

Featuring eight distinct ‘neighbourhoods’, the first Icon Class ship has 2,805 staterooms, 20 decks, 7 pools, and 40 different venues to drink and dine in!

Our Designers, based in our headquarters in Portadown, Northern Ireland and our London Design Studio, created over 75 different designs to match the distinctive design and style of each area.

“Our average project would encompass around 20 different design schemes, so the Icon of the Seas profile was very different to complete at one time,” added Rachel.

“Our Planners also had to deal with an extra level of intricacy in some areas of the cruise ship and the entire project placed a lot of pressure on our production team. However, despite the extra challenges, we were still able to deliver the same level of unrivalled service we offer our customers all over the world.

“We are delighted with the final results as they demonstrate the unique qualities and skills that Ulster Carpets are renowned for globally.”

CLICK HERE to read more details of this project.

Ulster Carpets designs and manufactures bespoke carpets for hospitality projects across the world, such as The Goring in London - the only hotel in the world to be granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services.

Record US exports signals continued growth

Significant investment in new jobs, infrastructure and technology has secured an increased turnover of over £11million for Ulster Carpets Ltd in the 2022/23 financial year.

As a fourth-generation family-owned and run company, we have demonstrated renewed positivity through a major redevelopment plan at our Portadown headquarters that has created nearly 50 jobs in the last 12 months to meet increasing demand.

Across the Ulster Carpets Group, a £3million investment in new technology at wool processing company, Ulster Yarns, has created 30 new jobs in Yorkshire.

In June 2023, the Ulster Group continued its Mergers & Acquisitions strategy with the acquisition of iconic British flooring brand, Alternative Flooring. The purchase was fully funded from Ulster’s own cash reserves and further diversifies the Group within the flooring sector.

One of the new high-speed PSYLO™ looms at Ulster Carpets.
Investment in new technology across the Ulster Carpets Group includes state-of-the-art high-speed PSYLO™ looms with patented technology.

Record turnover in the US Contract market was offset by the prevailing difficulties associated with COVID, global energy costs, inflation and the cost of living crisis, leading to similar levels of underlying operating profit to the previous year, excluding the sale of land.

Our latest accounts show that turnover has increased by over £11.8million to £79.9million, with the gross margin reducing from 41% to 38%. After taxation, the Group has reported a £2.7million profit.

In his Chairman’s Statement, Dr John Wilson expressed optimism following the record success in the competitive US market, new projects secured in the UK, European and Marine markets and strong results and a positive outlook for Ulster Carpets Group companies Roger Oates Design and Danfloor.

He said, “The year under review marked the first full year’s trading in the absence of any COVID related Government support policies. While the pandemic is now over, there is still a persistent tail of disruption which is taking time to fully settle down. Taking those two points into consideration it was pleasing to see that operating profits have remained steady.

“Global energy costs and suboptimal productivity have put pressure on margins but we expect that with increasing numbers of high speed looms productivity and margins will improve.

“Rebuilding capacity at our headquarters in Portadown continues, with a committed investment programme. As intimated in last year’s accounts, it will be into 2024 before the full benefits of this will be realised.”

Investment in the main manufacturing site in Portadown will result in a complete renewal of most of the infrastructure and buildings alongside the addition of the latest automated technologies.

Megan becomes NEWH Atlanta President

Our Sales Executive, Megan May, has become the President of the NEWH Atlanta Chapter.

Megan, who covers the South East and Mid Atlantic regions of the USA, credits the NEWH (Network of Executive Women in Hospitality) for helping with her professional progression and wants to pay it forward.

Megan May, new President of NEWH Atlanta Chapter

NEWH is the international community connecting the hospitality industry, providing scholarships, education, leadership development, recognition of excellence, and business development opportunities.

After regretting not applying for a student scholarship because she didn’t think she had the time, Megan has since realised the many benefits of being part of the NEWH.

“I have got much more out of this organization than I ever thought I would, including some wonderful mentors and getting to be one myself.

“I joined the NEWH Atlanta Board in 2014, my college graduate year, and have been there ever since. I truly credit this organization for the advancement of my professional career. As a young designer I was exposed to professionals that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. Introductions were made to people in high places, and some of those people became colleagues, mentors, and friends. I still credit the NEWH for helping me to get the job at Ulster Carpets.”

Looking ahead, Megan wants to continue the great work of the NEWH and help build a new generation of professionals for the hospitality industry.

“I get to be a role model to students, and be part of their success story as so many people have been part of mine. There are lots of roles and duties to being President of this organization, but I believe the most important is to continue to carry out the legacy of all of those wonderful successful women before me who founded this organization in 1984, so that I could have the opportunities that I have as a woman today!”

Find out more about the work of NEWH at

Warm welcome for Farmers

We had the privilege of welcoming members of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Beef & Lamb Committee to our headquarters in Portadown recently.

The members learned all about how wool is integral to every carpet we weave and how we promote the benefits of this amazing material at every opportunity.

Every year we buy around 2.5 million kilos of wool a year, which is the equivalent of 1.47 million fleeces. We predominately use British and Irish wool which is all purchased in line with the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare and The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) guidelines.

During their behind the scenes tour they got to see how wool is woven into luxury carpets that are used in homes, hotels, casinos and cruise ships across the world.

David Acheson, Strategic Development & Finance Director, “We welcomed the opportunity to showcase our company to these local farmers and show how local wool is being used in our carpets.
“Wool is an amazing natural and renewable fibre, with inherent qualities of durability, ease of cleaning, and beautiful softness that make it the perfect choice for use in our world class carpets.”

Sustainability Award Success

Ulster Carpets have won The Flooring Show’s Sustainability Award – the second award this year that has recognised our Sustainability Strategy.

The Flooring Show – hosted this week in Harrogate – is the UK’s largest flooring event and for over 60 years it has attracted thousands of retailers, contractors, distributors, fitters, designers and developers.

Carol Howson, Sustainability & Product Engineer at Ulster Carpets, said,

“We are delighted that the judges at The Flooring Show have recognised our Sustainability Strategy.

“As a family company, protecting the planet is an important part of our ethos. When we launched our Sustainability Strategy earlier this year we wanted to be as transparent as possible about our journey towards Net Zero.

“We have already taken many positive steps forward and, as our history has proven, we will continue to innovate to make our manufacturing processes more energy efficient and develop new products that meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly carpets.

“By using wool in every carpet we already have a great starting point and we are determined to build on our track record as an industry innovator to refine our manufacturing processes and drive through the change that our sector needs.”

The aim of The Flooring Show’s Sustainability Award is to shine a spotlight on the manufacturers striving to make their products and processes more sustainable and we’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised.

The judges looked at what policies we have in place to reduce our environmental impact, our eco-friendly product ranges and, importantly, our sustainability goals over the next five years. As outlined in our Sustainability Strategy, these include:

  • 50% reduction in carbon emissions
  • 18.5% reduction in energy intensity
  • 5% reduction in water consumption
  • 20% reduction in waste
  • 5% reduction in packaging

This is the second time this year that our efforts to protect the planet have been recognised. In June, we won the Best Sustainable Business at The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards in a competitive category that included Coca-Cola, Greiner Packaging, Musgrave Northern Ireland, JP Corry and Hastings Hotels.

Read more about our Sustainability Strategy

Ulster Carpets The Flooring Show Sustainability Award Winners
Andrew Gicquel, Retail Sales Manager, is presented with The Flooring Show’s Sustainability Award.
Ulster Carpets | Olivia Mehaffey Sponsorship Extension

Olivia Mehaffey Sponsorship Extension

We are delighted to extend our sponsorship with professional golfer, Olivia Mehaffey.

Nick Coburn, Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, said, “We have supported Olivia since she turned professional in 2021 and we are look forward to seeing where the next steps on her journey take her.

“Olivia continues to be a positive role model and we are particularly supportive of her determination to inspire more young women in sport.”
Olivia added, “I am delighted to continue my sponsorship with Ulster Carpets. It is very special to me having the support of such a successful local company. I look forward to continue to represent Ulster Carpets on tour around the world.”

Next up for Olivia is the Aramco Team Series at the Centurion Club, St Albans from 14th-16th July.

Ulster Carpets 85th anniversary Family Fun Day 2023

Celebrating 85 years in the community

Ulster Carpets 85th anniversary Family Fun Day
Celebrating 85 years of Ulster Carpets are (from left) Edward Wilson, Past Group Chairman; John Wilson, Group Chairman; and Nick Coburn, Group Deputy Chairman and Managing Director. Edward is the son of company founder, George Walter Wilson and John and Nick are the founder’s grandsons.

This year we are celebrating 85 years of supporting the community.

The milestone was marked with a Family Fun Day at our head office in Portadown that supported a wide range of local business and celebrated our place at the heart of the community.

Now a globally successful company, our headquarters has remained on the same site in Portadown that the company was formed on in 1938.

Ulster Carpets is also still owned and run by the family of founder, George Walter Wilson, and his motivation for starting the company remains central to Ulster’s philosophy.

During the 1930s, like most of the UK and Ireland, people in Portadown were facing the Great Depression with traditional industries in severe decline and unemployment levels at a record high. To combat this, Mr Wilson explored different manufacturing opportunities that would create much-needed employment for people in the town.

Ulster Carpets was officially registered in 1938 with 19 employees based on the site of a former linen mill. Fast-forward 85 years and the Ulster Carpets Group now employs over 700 people across the world.

Nick Coburn, Managing Director, said, “When my grandfather started Ulster Carpets, his key objective was to support the local community by creating jobs that the people in Portadown and the surrounding areas so badly needed.

“From that simple idea of helping people into employment, we have grown to become one of the town’s largest employers, with carpets designed and manufactured in Portadown now found in homes, hotels, casinos and cruise ships across the world.

“My grandfather would be proud of how his successful his company has become and of the fact that we have been granted a Royal Warrant.”

From job creation, the community ethos at Ulster Carpets remains important.

“As we have grown, supporting the local community has remained an important philosophy for Ulster Carpets. Both as a company and through The John Wilson Memorial Trust we continue to help local businesses, charities, community organisations and sports groups to build a stronger society.”