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.”

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.

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.

The majestic wool rich Axminster carpets for the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey were manufactured by Ulster Carpets. Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images


As Royal Warrant holders, we are honoured to have designed, manufactured and installed over 1,000m2 of majestic wool rich Axminster carpets for the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.

This year marks the 85th anniversary of Ulster Carpets, a fourth-generation family-owned company, and this momentous milestone will be marked by a place in history.

Nick Coburn CBE, Group Managing Director, said, “When my grandfather founded Ulster Carpets, he could not have envisaged that his company would earn such a unique honour.

“There is a real sense of pride at being involved in the Coronation and we see this as a tribute to the hard work and dedication of generations of our staff over the last 85 years.”

This isn’t the first time that Ulster Carpets have worked with the Royal Family. Last year, Ulster became one of the final companies to receive a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II, having worked on a number of projects for the Royal Household.

Joyce McIvor, UK and Ireland Contract Sales Director, led the team at Ulster Carpets on the historic Coronation project, working in conjunction with leading events company, Identity.

“We are thrilled to play a major part in this historically significant event. We were recommended to Identity by the Royal Household, which demonstrates the high esteem in which Ulster Carpets are held.

“Working closely with Identity we developed a range of colour samples for the Royal Household to choose from. We also had to consider the technical aspects of the construction such as pile height and direction, to ensure the carpet not only looked sensational, but performed to the very highest standards on the day.

“Our attention to detail shone through at every stage and that is testament to the dedication of our hard-working staff. We have worked for a host of prestigious clients across the world but this ranks as one of the most important projects in our 85-year history.”

Lois Norman, a Senior Field Designer based in Ulster’s London Design Studio, took inspiration for the carpet colours from several sources.

“We researched past Coronations and historic events at Westminster Abbey and also took into consideration elements such as the colour of the robes and adornments the King would be wearing, the prominent tones within the Abbey and even the Heraldic cyphers of the Royal Household.

“A more unusual aspect for us was that we had to consider how the carpet would look on TV. Everything had to work together in harmony and, in the end, the final choice of colours was influenced by Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation – a fitting tribute to the dedication she displayed during her years of service to the nation.

“This is by far the most prestigious project I have ever worked on and one I am so proud to have been involved in.”

For the Coronation, Ulster Carpets commissioned another family business, Trade Carpet Company, to install the two resplendent carpets at Westminster Abbey.

Joyce added, “Trade Carpet Company have again proven their expertise and we are delighted with the professional installation at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation. It has been a pleasure to continue our long-standing relationship on such an important project.”

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.”

Ulster Carpets acquires design-led Alternative Flooring

Ulster Carpets has announced the acquisition of Alternative Flooring.

An iconic independent British brand, Alternative Flooring is an ethically conscious designer and supplier of high-quality flooring with a quirky twist. The Hampshire-based company will now join the range of complementary flooring companies within the successful Ulster Carpets Group.

The acquisition further underlines Ulster Carpets’ belief in high quality, design-led, customer-focused UK businesses.

David Acheson, Ulster’s Strategic Development Director, said, “We believe that the Ulster Carpets Group is a fitting home for Alternative Flooring in terms of culture, outlook and ambition. Alternative will remain an independent, autonomous brand within the Ulster Carpets Group, but with the added expertise and resources to strengthen its capability, service, and product range. It is good news for Alternative’s valued customers, key suppliers, and exceptional employees.”

For more than 25 years, Alternative Flooring has been providing flooring to fall in love with, with a focus on inspiring people to express their personality through colour, pattern, and texture. The company’s award-winning flooring products are ethically sourced, and its Make Me A Rug programme allows any design to be turned into a rug that is hand finished to an exceptional standard at its Hampshire base.

Chris Brammall, retiring Chairman of Alternative Flooring, said, “We are enormously proud of what we have achieved since taking over Alternative Flooring. Securing a bright future for the Alternative brand, together with its employees, customers, and key suppliers, was a major factor in deciding the most suitable home for its next phase of development. This acquisition gives Alternative the opportunity of reaching its considerable potential.”

Winner of Best Sustainable Business Award!

Ulster Carpets have been named as the Best Sustainable Business 2023 at The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards.

Shortlisted in a competitive category that includes Coca-Cola, Greiner Packaging, Musgrave Northern Ireland, JP Corry and Hastings Hotels, the judges said: “Our winner walked all over the opposition here! This company has launched its own sustainability strategy as the next step in a long history of market-leading innovations, and it has also developed and patented its own unique weaving technology.”

The award was in recognition of our recently launched Sustainability Strategy that outlines the enormous strides we have made towards protecting the planet over the last 85 years. Importantly, the strategy also looks ahead by setting key targets for reductions in 2025.

Beverley Copeland, Director Organisation Development at Ulster Carpets, said, “We are delighted to be presented with this award and to receive recognition of our Sustainability Strategy.

“As a company we have a proud history of innovation and, as our Sustainability Strategy outlines, we remain committed to playing our part in protecting the planet.”

Read more about our Sustainability Strategy here –

You can also read more about the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards HERE