Monday 26 September 2016

McGuckian lands €44m 'bullet-proof vest' US Army deal

Published 06/09/2015 | 02:30

Irish Continental Group chairman John McGuckian's Cooneen textile empire beat off four other bidders to secure a deal to provide the US Army with bullet-proof vests
Irish Continental Group chairman John McGuckian's Cooneen textile empire beat off four other bidders to secure a deal to provide the US Army with bullet-proof vests

Hawk Protection, part of industrialist and Irish Continental Group chairman John McGuckian's Cooneen textile empire, has landed part of a €44m contract with the US Army to provide bullet-proof vests. Hawk will team up with Bethel Industries and KDH Defence Industries for the fixed-term contract for the Soldier Protection System modular vest which was recently awarded by Army Contracting Command in Maryland. It is understood that the winning group beat off four other bidders, with the contract set to be completed in early 2019.

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McGuckian's Cooneen group developed specialist divisions - Cooneen Defence and Cooneen Protection - to cater for the defence and security sector. "The combination of Cooneen Protection expertise in ballistic protection, and Cooneen Defence detailed garment knowledge has produced a world-class product which provides exceptional levels of protection," according to the company. It provided "Tier 1 Pelvic Protective Underwear" or bomb-proof pants for the United States Army and United States Marine Corps in 2011 before landing a number of high-profile contacts. The firm also developed and produces general purpose body armour for the UK Police force garnering an 80pc market share for the product in Britain. Cooneen did not comment.

The core Cooneen group is involved in making children's pyjamas featuring Peppa Pig, Cinderella and Fireman Sam for high-street retailers. The group also provides specialist clothing and equipment for prison guards including limb-protectors and training batons. The specialist textile sector is proving highly lucrative for the Cooneen Group, which generated €11.4m in pre-tax profits last year.

McGuckian is one of the country's best-known industrialists and corporate heavyweights. He has been chairman of Eamon Rothwell's listed ferry group ICG for the last decade and also served as a director of AIB until 2007. He has also been a director of listed groups TVC and UTV. In 2012 he stepped down as chairman of UTV following a boardroom wrangle. McGuckian is also heavily involved in the property sector with shopping centre interests in Ireland and the UK.

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