Quinn Industrial Holdings says growing local support as sales soar

Company reports 15% rise in turnover to €240m with focus on further growth

Liam McCaffrey said the group’s focus had now shifted to expansion. Photograph: Collins

Liam McCaffrey said the group’s focus had now shifted to expansion. Photograph: Collins

 

Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), a group that comprises several companies originally owned by former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn, has said it is seeing increased support in the local community after putting the business back on track.

The group, whose senior executives have previously complained of a campaign of intimidation by people claiming to be supporters of Mr Quinn, also said the business was in a good position to grow further regardless of what happens with Brexit.

QIH on Thursday announced a 15 per cent increase in turnover to €240 million for 2018. This marks an increase of almost 50 per cent in revenues since the group acquired what is now Quinn Building Products and Quinn Packaging in 2014. It also marks the company’s fourth successive year of double-digit growth.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was up 10 per cent last year to €26.4 million, a four-fold increase from the €6.2 million recorded in 2014.

Last year also saw staff numbers climb to 830, a 28 per cent increase since the businesses were acquired. In addition, QIH said it invested €21.7 million in the company in 2018, bringing total investment since 2014 to €45 million.

“Increasingly, the broader community and all the stakeholders in it are seeing the benefits of this business being well run and heavily invested in for the past four years,” chief executive Liam McCaffrey told The Irish Times.

“What we have done over the last four years has been about bringing the business back up to scratch again. We’re now looking at further growth and expansion. This may result in more jobs but I’d imagine that if this happens it would more likely be a modest increase in staff numbers.”

Intimidation

Mr Quinn lost control of his businesses during the recession, but rejoined as a consultant in 2015 after a local buyout of old Quinn Group assets. However, the businessman left again in 2016 after a dispute with the new owners and in the period since there have been sporadic alleged attacks, including vandalism and threats, against QIH and its senior management.

Mr Quinn has repeatedly publicly condemned all alleged attacks on those now running QIH.

QIH reported strong trading for both its building products and packaging businesses for 2018 with Mr McCaffrey saying this had continued into this year.

“The Irish construction market improved in the second half of 2018 after a slow start due to the bad weather. In the UK we saw some commercial slowdown around London. However, we mainly deliver to the regional housebuilding market and that has proven to be pretty resilient.

“We’d have hoped margins might have been a little better but we saw a lot of energy costs coming through particularly in the second half of the year and that would have impacted on margins simply because it takes a while to get price increases through to compensate,” Mr McCaffrey added.

QIH said that having stabilised and substantially re-invested in the businesses, the focus has now shifted to expansion opportunities with plans to grow in both the Republic and Britain.

Brexit

Chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly said the company, which is based on the Cavan/Fermanagh border, can meet the challenges of Brexit.

“What stands to us is that we’re quite uniquely positioned in that the border cuts through the middle of our operations. While some people might think that is a significant disadvantage it means we are very much at the coalface in the event of a hard customs border and having operations in both jurisdictions gives us a lot of flexibility,” he said.

Mr McCaffrey was equally optimistic about being able to grow regardless of what type of Brexit eventually occurs.

“Unless the UK economy completely tanks we’ll have supportive markets going forward,” he said.