Wednesday 21 August 2019

Irish manufacturer hitting the heights with 2.5 million tiles at Bloomberg HQ


Bloomberg's new headquarters is located in central London
Bloomberg's new headquarters is located in central London

John Reynolds

Two and-a-half million ceiling tiles in Bloomberg's new London headquarters are helping the Irish-founded manufacturer and designer SAS International win new work around the world.

The business, which is chaired by Cavan-born founder Eddie McElhinney's youngest daughter Siobhan, has most recently completed work here at the offices of Arthur Cox, Google and LinkedIn, as well as at new buildings belonging to the Central Bank building and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Ms McElhinney said: "In the Middle East, we're nearing the completion of Muscat airport in Oman, a significant design project that will be one of the region's most interesting in terms of architecture. We recently won work on Helsinki airport's new terminal, while we've just finished Sydney airport and are currently working on Auckland airport."

Employing 850 people, the firm, which has its headquarters in the UK and an office in west Dublin, booked a turnover of €115m and a profit of €7m for last year in its recently filed accounts.

Ms McElhinney explained: "We invested half of our profits back into the business last year.

"Meanwhile, sterling's weakness improves the profitability of some of our overseas projects and helps competitiveness. However, raw materials also increased in cost.

"We see continued growth in infrastructure in the UK and are bidding for more of that work, such as in new metro systems being built all over the world.

"Next year, we'll complete work in that regard, on our biggest project ever, Hong Kong's Kowloon train station."

Brexit has been a call to action for the business, she said.

"We're diversifying geographically and in our core sectors and have redoubled our efforts in our key global markets of Europe, the Middle East and Australia, diversifying our product range to capture more sales in buildings used for infrastructure, education and pharmaceutical or R&D.

"Our design-led special projects division, which is responsible for the Bloomberg HQ work, as well as on projects such as London's Crossrail, is also performing very strongly."

The work involved in the landmark Bloomberg building, which was designed by world-famous architects Foster and Partners, was a huge undertaking, Ms McElhinney explained.

"It is probably the most sustainable office, if not building, in the world. We had 125 people working on it, at peak. Our ceiling petals are a world-first, with cooling, lighting and acoustic functionality.

"The 2.5 million petals feature 122 miles of copper pipe and took 500 drawings and over 38,000 hours, equivalent to 17.6 years of design work."

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