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Northern Ireland Houseboat Manufacturer Trebles Capacity

21st February 2023
Pictured (from left) with Ulster Bank business development manager Derick Wilson are Bluefield Houseboats operations director Colin Nelson, chairman Tony Reid and technical director Justin Reid
Pictured (from left) with Ulster Bank business development manager Derick Wilson are Bluefield Houseboats operations director Colin Nelson, chairman Tony Reid and technical director Justin Reid

A specialist houseboat manufacturer in Northern Ireland has trebled its manufacturing capacity and created three new jobs following a major investment in a new production facility with support from Ulster Bank.

Launched in 2016, Bluefield Houseboats specialises in the design and manufacture of residential and commercial houseboats for marinas, waterfronts and riverside sites throughout the UK and Ireland.

With funding provided by Ulster Bank, the growing start-up has acquired an acre of commercial ground outside Ballynahinch, where it has invested in developing 6,000 sq ft purpose-built production facility, completing the first of a multi-phase investment programme.

Completion of phase one has seen the firm expand its manufacturing capacity from a dozen hand-built to-order houseboats per year to 36. It has also created three new production jobs with future recruitment in the pipeline.

Bluefield Houseboats chairman Tony Reid said: “Our core business is focused on developing houseboats for commercial use. However, our long-term outlook sees significant opportunity in the residential space as well as supporting marinas to capitalise on tourism potential to generate new and sustainable revenue streams.”

Ulster Bank Business Development Manager Derick Wilson said the investment will have a transformative impact on the business.

“Before this investment, Bluefield Houseboats had already established a solid reputation for its premium product suite. With the benefit of a modern and built-for-purpose manufacturing base, the company is now equipped to attract further investment and maximise its export potential in a market with huge opportunity for growth. Northern Ireland has a proud manufacturing heritage and at Ulster Bank we’re pleased to lend our support to new entrants to the market that are driving forward innovation and creating new employment opportunities.”

Operations director Colin Nelson said the aim of the investment was to minimise waste while maximising productivity.

“It was all about implementing the principles manufacturing best practice to sustain growth. Already, we have a very strong proposition and a high demand product which we believe will only continue to grow as population size and density combined with land availability intensifies.”

Technical director Justin Reid added: “By streamlining the production process we’re able to eliminate the double-handling of materials and increase our output, manufacturing up to eight individual houseboats under the same roof at any one time compared to only three previously.”

With a growing order book, the young company is already implementing future expansion plans.

Subject to planning permission, phase two of the investment programme will see Bluefield Houseboats further expand its production site, adding an additional 13,000 sq ft which will enable it to manufacture up to 100 houseboats annually.

The firm currently manufactures seven different models of houseboat from three ranges, offering a ‘light touch’ to waterfront and riverside sites by minimising permanent infrastructure.

Their conceptual design, led by company director Jonny Baird, ensures each model is suited to its surroundings through materials and styling that allows each houseboat to integrate seamlessly within residential, commercial, marinas, holiday park and lake sites. Team

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