It has been a landmark year for the Quinn Group, the Cavan-based firm that continues to make its name in the most unlikely of places. For one thing, the company’s turnover, which is drawn from at least five different business sectors - from insurance to cement - is topping €1bn for the first time. This jump from €600m in 2003 will come as pre-tax profits rise from €160m to more than €200m.
For a private company that has never raised funds on the stock market, such numbers are dizzying. They are especially so when the company has been built from scratch over a 30-year period on the basis of a £100 loan taken out in 1973. The loan in question, so the story goes, was taken out so that Fermanagh man Mr Sean Quinn could launch his first gravel venture, which involved sinking a well, extracting the gravel, washing it and then selling it on to local contractors at a profit.
Three decades on, Quinn Group employs some 2600 people across its 14 or so separate business lines. And things are growing all the time. While there have been big years for Quinn Group in the past, such as the launch of Quinn Direct insurance in 1995, 2004 stands out as a time where even the most cynical of observers was forced to take him seriously. He is currently spending £200m on a new glass plant in Cheshire (abstracted report from The Irish Times).