25 April 2023, The Irish News: Gary McDonald Business Editor
PORTADOWN-based joinery, interiors and visitor attraction contractor the Deluxe Group has landed some of its biggest-ever contracts, securing more than $40 million (about £32m) worth of export deals in the US in the themed entertainment sector.
And Deluxe, which has been operating for 50 years, is also investing more than £1.5 million in an ambitious expansion plan of its own, adding a new base in Antrim and more than doubling its workshop capacity in Portadown.
That will see it create 30 new jobs to accommodate those lucrative new contracts for theme parks and other immersive experiences around the world.
The group’s executive chairman Colm O’Farrell said: “We’ve seen solid growth within our bespoke joinery division over the last five years, completing prestigious projects such as the luxury Great Scotland Yard hotel and opulent branded residences including The Old War Office in London.
“But the growth of the emerging experience economy is driving unprecedented international demand for our specialist skills in design and prefabrication of themed attractions.
“Northern Ireland has gained an international reputation for film and TV production, though people might be surprised that some of the world’s most exciting attractions are being built here.
“We have learned over the years how best to tell a story through authentic interiors, whether it’s an iconic movie or whiskey brand brought to life or reimagining a historic building as a hotel or residence.”
Invest NI has supported the Deluxe Group to grow over the last number of years, and its executive director of international business Steve Harper said: “Winning new export business of this scale takes vision and investment in new product development.
“The Deluxe Group’s innovative approach to developing solutions for the global creative industries sector is supporting this vision and enabling it to grow its reputation globally and significantly expand its export markets.
“Our support over the years has helped it to grow its team, market its products globally and our inmarket team in the US has provided it with invaluable advice and guidance to secure major growth in the US market.
“We are delighted to have played our part in supporting Deluxe to win such prestigious contracts and be a world leader in its field.”
It is a little known fact that Deluxe Group (www.thedeluxegroup.com) is well versed in imaginative and revolutionary interiors for the experience sector.
It recently completed high-profile projects including sets and attractions for the Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Banbridge, Hotel Transylvania and Ghostbusters in Dubai, Jurassic World in Orlando and Mario Kart, an augmented reality giant-size version of the computer game at Super Nintendo World in Japan as well as the world-famous Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure dark ride at Disneyland Paris.
To accommodate this influx of top-tier orders, it has opened a new 40,000 sq ft manufacturing facility adjacent to Belfast International Airport with in-house composites fabrication, set-building and state-of-the-art finishing facilities.
Extensive demand from the US will also see Deluxe open a new facility in Orlando, Florida – the leading themed entertainment destination – so it can fulfil this influx of transatlantic orders and seize long-term opportunity in the American market.
The company is also developing its first product for home entertainment. Pub Óg, a miniature Irish pub crafted by Deluxe Group artisans for an authentic interior, finish and feel, is destined for the US home and commercial hospitality market.
Meanwhile, the Deluxe Group’s team has grown to 180 staff, and working in partnership with local colleges and universities, it has invested in an apprenticeship academy and graduate scheme to ensure the pipeline of local talent is work-ready and in sync with the demand for its projects across all of the sectors it services.
Mr O’Farrell added: “We’re delighted to see recognition of the value of our Northern Ireland talent and quality of workmanship on an international stage. Our innovative use of 3D design and advanced manufacturing technology has played a key role in breaking into international markets.”