Firm has material for success

The team at Cunningham Covers
The team at Cunningham Covers

For the past four decades, a Northern Ireland company has proved it has it covered when it comes to targeting new markets. Adrienne McGill reports

A Co Londonderry based tarpaulin manufacturer, which has become a world leader in its field, has secured new business in Africa and the Middle East totalling over £500,000.

Cunningham Covers, which is headquartered in Maghera is a market leader in advanced textile solutions and sells a range of covers, tarpaulins and canopies to customers all over the world.

Last year it supplied natural canvas tarpaulins for use during The Coldest Journey, a six month expedition to cross the Antarctic led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The firm secured the business after being contacted by the expedition team, who are facing temperatures as low as -90c, to provide tarpaulins for use on top of the expedition shipping containers which were modified to be used as science labs and living quarters.

For the expedition, the team used Cunningham Covers 16oz natural heavy duty cotton canvas which can withstand very low temperatures.

The company also provided the covers for the beach volleyball courts at the London 2012 Olympics.

The family firm has undertaken a series of investments recently to develop its long-term strategic direction. Over £50,000 of assistance from Invest NI has accelerated the company’s

export marketing activities, helped to establish a web presence and secure customers in new markets and product areas. Invest NI’s support was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Commenting on the latest contract wins David Cunningham, General Manager of Cunningham Covers, said:

“Last year we focused heavily on developing our marketing and IT capabilities so that we could capitalise on new business opportunities across a range of markets including Africa and the Middle


“Implementing a greater strategic approach to our business development plans was essential to the future growth of our company and this process was made very straightforward with support from Invest NI. We are extremely encouraged by our

export sales figures over last year and aim to broaden our customer and market profiles throughout the coming months.”

With 40 years experience in advanced textile solutions, Cunningham Covers has produced top of the range coverings for hundreds of companies across the world suited to many differing needs including storage tarps, trailer sheets and large scale surtain sides.

Kevin McCann, Invest NI’s Director of Advanced Engineering and Construction, said:

“Cunningham Covers is an established family firm which has demonstrated a clear drive to remain innovative and successful in export markets. The business operates in a niche

market and has diversified its product offering in recent years to accommodate the vast requirements of its customers.

“Cunningham Covers is continuing to be proactive in identifying new development opportunities and the firm’s focus on increasing export sales is now paying dividends as

it lays firm foundations for further growth.”

Last year Cunningham Covers won the Small Company of the Year title at the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards in association with Ulster Business and South East Business Insider. The awards honour those companies who have forged vital economic ties between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.