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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Ulster Carpets have set a series of ambitious targets in our drive to become Net Zero.
Marking our 85th anniversary this year, we are already the world’s premier supplier of Axminster and Wilton carpets to the world market. But protecting the planet remains of key importance, as outlined in our first Sustainability Strategy.
Nick Coburn, Group Managing Director at Ulster Carpets, explained, “As a third-generation company, our ethos is built on family and community values. These were attributes that my Grandfather instilled in Ulster Carpets when he established the company in Portadown in 1938.
“That same commitment is vital in protecting our planet and providing a long term, sustainable future for the generations that follow. We already have a proven track record as industry innovators and this report underpins our credentials as a sustainable company driving the change that our sector needs.”
The new report outlines five key targets to be met by 2025, including:
Beverley Copeland, Director Organisation Development at Ulster Carpets, added, “While sustainability and efficiency has been an important part of our history, by setting these key targets we are outlining our firm commitment to the future.
“We have already made some significant developments to reduce our waste and cut our energy and water usage but, as a company and an industry, we know there is still a lot of important work to be done.
“We are determined to continue on this important journey towards Net Zero and to ensure that we can provide a more sustainable future that will last for another 85 years and beyond.”
Ulster Carpets and Diversity Mark this week hosted a roundtable event with guest speaker Sir David Sterling focusing on how industry leaders can embed a culture of Allyship and positively change environments and behaviours within the workplace.
With over 150 signatories to date, Diversity Mark offers accreditation, expert support and guidance to organisations navigating the Diversity and Inclusion landscape.
Speaking at the event Nick Coburn, Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of Ulster Carpets, said: “We are delighted to host this roundtable discussion with Diversity Mark and to hear the experiences of many other manufacturers on the changing cultures and behaviours around inclusion.
“For over 85 years, we have prided ourselves on the employment opportunities that we have offered and the creation of an environment that rewards ambition and recognises talent. Inclusion and diversity is an ongoing process and we will be working alongside Diversity Mark to continue on that journey.”
Commenting, Nuala Murphy Director Diversity Mark, said: “The main outcome from the event today is that everyone is on a journey and ultimately wants their employees to be the best they can be. However a deeper cultural shift is required to help embed a culture of allyship, equipping people with the skills and know-how to do better. Research tells us that there is a 20% perception gap between how inclusive C-Suite executives felt their organisation was versus how included employees actually felt. We can offer the support and guidance to an organisation as they embark upon their equality, diversity and inclusion journey by sharing the knowledge and expertise from our team and our generous community of leaders in this space.
“Key to Diversity Mark is fostering a culture where real conversations can happen enabling employees to feel valued and included. This must be implemented from the top down and our independently assessed accreditation journey will give any workplace a process to follow and an accountability framework to work towards. The panel is made up of experienced independent assessors who each have an array of sector knowledge and real world experience across diversity and inclusion, implementing best practices and seeing the positive results first hand, time and time again.”
Ulster Carpets have been named as one of Northern Ireland’s most sustainable businesses.
The Portadown-based luxury carpet manufacturer achieved Gold level in the 2022 Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey, organised by responsible business network Business in the Community (BITC).
Beverley Copeland, Director of Organisation Development, said, “We are delighted to have progressed from the Silver level we attained last year to now receive Gold. We have always had strong environmental strategies and procedures in place and this result shows the progression that we have made in the last 12 months.
“This year we have added to our 100% wool carpet ranges with the launch of Open Spaces Ragan and Napier and Natural Choice Textures and we also continue to make improvements to make our manufacturing processes more efficient.
“We will continue to build on this success and will soon launch our first official Sustainability Report that will outline the important next steps that we will take on our sustainability journey.”
Kieran Harding, Managing Director of Business in the Community, said: “The Survey is an important comparison tool and a way for organisations to not only be recognised for their environmentally sustainable efforts, but also to identify areas where they can improve. It serves to highlight key environmental areas they need to be thinking about for the future.”
Mr Harding continued: “Stakeholders, suppliers and the general public are seeking reassurance from businesses that they’re doing all they can for the benefit of the environment and participating in the Survey can provide evidence of their commitment to a greener future.
“I want to congratulate and thank all companies that have stepped forward to take part in the Survey and report on their environmental practices.”
The Results Launch Event was part of BITC’s Environment Symposium, which brought NI businesses together to network and explore complex issues around environment, biodiversity and climate action.