Cavan Crystal expects profits of over £500,000

 

CAVAN Crystal's profits are expected be in excess of £500,000 this year and the company is to invest more than £1 million in a new visitors' centre, aimed at attracting more tourists to the factory.

The giftware company was bought out of examinership last August by a US and Irish based consortium after making substantial losses over the previous 10 years. The sale price was never revealed but it is understood to be just under £5 million.

Cavan's chairman and principal shareholder, Mr Neil McKay, told The Irish Times that the company's sales are expected to be around £2.3 million this year. Its best ever sales figures were in 1994 when the figures reached £1.8 million, according to Mr McKay.

It is understood that margins in the crystalware sector are around 40 per cent. "We would hope to double our sales over the next three to four years," he said.

"Cavan's biggest problem in the past has been that nobody was designing it and nobody was selling it," he said.

Mr McKay, who is originally from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is an accountant by training and was previously involved with Powerscreen International, the Dungannon based engineering firm in the US.

He said Cavan was targeting the US and had received a very good reaction to recent promotions there. He expects crystal sales in the US will contribute $1 million (£639,000) this year, up from a previous best of $240,000 (£152,000).

The domestic market will continue to be important, he said, and Cavan will focus particularly on the UK market.

He says his main task is to stabilise the company and to grow it carefully. "Up until October last there was no guarantee the company would survive," he said.

It is concentrating on producing a new range of designs and will not pitch at the cheaper end of the crystal market.

The company expects to employ another 15 staff once the visitors centre is complete. The centre will include a heritage centre, a new design department, glass museum and a genealogical centre.

Cavan currently employs 55 people but this is set to rise to 75 by the end of this year. Mr McKay said he would expect that the number employed will increase to over 100 by the end of 1997.

Ironically, Mr McKay was a disappointed bidder for Tyrone Crystal, a company for which Belleek China, which is also building a visitors' centre, was also a bidder.

The Belleek bid ended in acrimony and Tyrone was later the subject of a management buyout.