Price-fixing inquiry into flooring firms focuses on large multinational contracts
Competition Authority raids offices following allegations
Other high-profile projects worth millions of euro include eBay, the O2, Shannon Airport, the Convention Centre, the Aviva Stadium and Mountjoy, Castlerea and Wheatfield prisons.
It describes itself as “Ireland’s leading force in the contract-flooring sector and is part of the Crean Group that includes Aston Carpets, a key player in Ireland’s corporate carpet market and flooring”, although the two operate independently.
It also claimed to have secured “a number of prestigious jobs” in the UK.
In Ireland it grew significantly at the height of the construction market in 2007, establishing new offices in Dublin and Munster.
It says its “management system ensures consistently high standards are maintained at all times. It also gives us greater control and flexibility.”
A significant employer, staff numbers peaked at 207 in 2008.
Alan Crean is also listed as a director of Aston Crean UK.
Aston Carpets was established in 2003 and its other directors are Brendan Smith and Brian Ruane. It is registered at the same Charlestown, Mayo, address as Crean.
Both Crean International and Crean Group Overseas are again listed as shareholders in the company’s annual returns.
Aston Carpets also lists a number of the high-specification contracts it secured over the years, including fitting out the exclusive Carton House Golf Club in Kildare (contract value: €700,000); the VIP areas of Croke Park (€185,000) and the Spencer Dock offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers (€1.5 million).
In 2000, Alan Crean was behind plans for the redevelopment of Castlebar airport into a retail and business park, agreeing to purchase the 23-acre site for IR£3.05 million.
The Connaught Telegraph reported at the time that Crean’s Kelem Properties’ planning application lodged with the local authority valued the overall project at £25 million.
Another of the four companies raided, Floor Form (Ireland), was established in 2001 and lists Sean Burns, Noel Prendiville, Gareth McKeown and Declan Canavan as directors. It is registered at Dunboyne Business Park in Co Meath.
Mr Burns, who founded the company in 1985, is also a director of three Northern Ireland-based companies in the same group: Floor For, Floor Form Holdings and Floor Form (UK).
The group website also lists an office in Warsaw, Poland.
It counts among its high-profile clients Bank of Ireland and several other financial institutions, Dublin Airport, the Irish Film Centre, Heuston Station, Belfast City Hall, Belfast City Airport and Quinn Direct.
Carpet Centre (Contracts), a manufacturer of carpets and rugs registered off Wexford Street in Dublin, was incorporated in 1986 and today lists its directors as Eamonn Higgins and Mark, Jean, David and Sandra Radburn.
David Radburn is also listed as a director of the company Interior Management Systems Ltd.
None of the companies under investigation would comment to The Irish Times.