Ulster Weavers: Executive should provide more skills support to NI’s manufacturing sector

Posted By:
Electric Ireland

25th Jun 2021

Gillian McLean, Managing Director of Ulster Weavers has called on the NI Executive to do more to support skills in manufacturing in order to help the local economy thrive.

Gillian was speaking at a Leadership LIVE virtual event, hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) in partnership with Electric Ireland. She was joined by Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach NI. The event focused on how the business leaders have steered their organisations through the last year and are now focussed on new markets, emerging products and customer success.

Ulster Weavers has ambitious growth plans and believes that bringing manufacturing back into Northern Ireland is key to achieving its vision of having at least one Ulster Weavers product in every home in the world. The company is planning on bringing new products to the market and has identified strategic regions as priority markets over the next three years.

Gillian McLean said: “Our vision is to bring inspiration and craftsmanship to every home in the world, rooted in our purpose to enrich homes and lives everywhere. Over the next few years, the company is entering an exciting period of growth as we develop our existing product range and enter new market sectors, with the aim of trebling our turnover in the next 10 years. As part of this, we have exciting plans to bring manufacturing back to Northern Ireland.  I would encourage the NI Executive to fully recognise and support local manufacturing businesses who are working to innovate and expand their businesses globally, especially as we seek to invest in crafts such as stitching and printing.”

During the event, Mairead at Openreach NI discussed how the business has been particularly busy over the last 14 months as the country moved to working from their homes and she sees strong opportunities for the business. “The last year in particular has shown how our fibre network is more advanced than the rest of GB, placing us up with other leading countries around the world on connectivity. I would urge the Executive to consider how we can maximise this for the NI economy across areas such as health, the environment and communities and to continue their support in skills – particularly apprenticeships – as we bring 250 new apprentices into the company as we grow.”

The leaders also discussed their leadership styles and what it takes to be successful as they outlined their confidence that as the country recovers from the pandemic, they can look to the future.