LARNE mineral company Kilwaughter expanded operations after reporting unprecedented demand for its construction products.

The Co Antrim company said it has now increased its workforce after citing a “sustained surge in demand,” particularly from the construction sector.

Kilwaughter Minerals reported a difficult trading period last year with Covid-19 and Brexit hitting the construction industry.

The result was a drop in sales with pre-tax profits from £ 8m to £ 5.4m.

But with the economy reopening and activities recovering quickly, the Larne team has invested £ 450,000 in expansion and hired new production workers.

Kilwaughter Minerals primarily serves the construction and agricultural sectors with products such as colored plaster, exterior wall insulation systems, soil health minerals and lime lime solutions to combat bacteria.

The move has increased the mineral processor’s workforce to over 200.

Chief Executive, Gary Wilmot, said: “With the economy emanating from the coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to respond to the continued surge in demand, particularly in our construction sectors.

“The move towards a net zero economy is driving the agenda for more heat efficient homes and this will drive demand for our exterior wall insulation systems in the years to come.”

The CEO said while the company reached the 200 employee milestone, Kilwaughter is supporting hundreds more in the local supply chain.

“As a major employer in the Mid and East Antrim counties and as a catalyst for the growth of the Northern Irish economy in a broader sense, we are determined to continue investing locally in order to expand our market leadership position.

“These new jobs allow us to meet the demand for our existing suite of products while focusing on developing new and innovative solutions to drive further growth.”

Meanwhile, construction product supplier MacBlair increased its sales in the first half of 2021 by almost 60 percent compared to the previous year.

While the sharp spike reflects the impact of the pandemic in early 2020, performance was still 27 percent better than 2019.

It came when MacBlair’s parent company Grafton posted a record £ 143 million profit for half a year.

Grafton said MacBlair traded heavily in the second half of 2020 and accelerated through 2021, making the year a record start.