Company History

The 21st Century

Wilson Resources Group is the parent company and administrative hub for Wilson Salt, Antrim Shipbrokers and their associated companies Clinty Chemicals and Clinty Regen. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Group has flourished for over 90 years. This family owned company and the Wilson name has, down through the decades, been an integral part of Northern Ireland’s agricultural, industrial and commercial landscape. The Group's longevity can be attributed to its ethos, foresight and ability to adapt and evolve through difficult socio-economic climates and its application of innovative and environmentally-friendly technologies within production processes. The aim of the Wilson Group companies is to provide customers with the best quality products using the most ethical and yet efficient processes. This means we approach both new and existing markets with a fresh perspective at all times and strive to innovate in applying carbon conscious and environmentally-friendly technology as effectively as possible without compromising our competitiveness.

The 20th Century

The Wilson Resources Group story began in 1922 when Robert Wilson, at the age of 23, bought his uncle’s flour, cereal and sugar merchant business, WJR Wilson. Based at 22 Great Patrick Street, Belfast, and with Robert at the helm the company soon flourished with his entrepreneurial zeal evident from the start. Upgrading the plant’s machinery to include a barley grinder, mixer and roller to enable him to deliver his goods by horse and cart, Robert, not content to overlook a business opportunity, used his return journey to carry salt back from the then Carrickfergus Salts Works at Minorca. Therein began the Wilson Family’s relationship with the Salt Industry and one which later saw Robert and his son Ted form the Wilson Salt Company now the leading supplier of salt throughout Ireland. Although difficult at times, and despite the economic setbacks of the late 1920s and early 1930s, with careful planning and entrepreneurial ingenuity, Robert managed to steer the business through those austere times. When the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board made the decision in the 1930s to buyout small transport businesses, Robert grasped the opportunity to sell and set up a new business selling salt.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, and still residing at his small farm holding at Belmont, Robert - foreseeing the lack of growth his small farm could generate and with the expectancy that the government were going to amalgamate small businesses - sold his farm and bought a 130 acre farm, Altahammond (at that time in the name of Wisnom, a member of his wife Margaret’s wider family) which the family still own and reside in to this day. In the early 1950s Robert, now joined by his son Edward, or Ted as he is also known, decided to concentrate his efforts on the family farming business allowing Ted to take over and run the then named Robert Wilson & Son Ltd. In 1966 he set up Wilson Salt Company importing and distributing salt from Europe. By the mid-1980s the company had moved from their Great Patrick Street premises to Northern Road and is now the largest processor and distributor of commercial salt in Ireland, enjoying a dominant market position in both the north and south of the island.

Wilson Salt also operates a unique business model, importing sea and vacuum salt as a raw material and processing it for use in high grade industrial applications. The company offers best optimised products for each customers’ needs and has the largest and most comprehensive range of its own brand and factory packed products available within the UK and Ireland. The company focuses increasingly on the use of sea salt as a staple raw material due to the low levels of carbon required in its production and operates the only independent salt drying facility within the British Isles. Wilson Salt remains the only independent manufacturer and processor of salt within the UK and Ireland.

Meanwhile, in 1979, Ted, alongside his wife Muriel, formed Wilsons Feeds and built a state-of-the-art animal feed mill beside the salt company in Northern Road, Belfast. Wilsons Feeds (Ireland) Ltd in Mullingar, County Westmeath was founded in 1986 and by then the Group was the second largest compounder in Northern Ireland. Soon the Northern Road plant was at maximum output and a second mill quickly followed with a facility established in Dungannon, strategically placed to move feed to the Republic of Ireland. Hugely successful, and recognised as the second biggest mill in Northern Ireland, the family took the decision to sell the business to a management buy-out in 1992. In 1978 the Wilson family had joined forces with the Stevenson family to form Clinty Chemicals. Ted, with a background in engineering, latterly joined by his son Allen, the present day Chairman of the Wilson Resources Group, saw the potential in using supplies of water, sewage and effluent treatment chemicals to replace imported chemicals from Europe. Clinty Chemicals focused on the supply of inorganic flocculants to the potable water treatment and sewage sector in Northern Ireland, utilising laterite (low grade aluminium and iron ore) in the manufacture of its unique FAS product.

In maintaining a balance between social benefit and environmental impact, Clinty Chemicals has retained a dominant position throughout Northern Ireland over the last thirty years with a market share of 28%. Clinty Chemicals is currently working to develop and market cutting-edge clean technologies aimed at helping customers save on energy and costs, reduce waste and lower carbon footprint thus enabling them to meet existing and future environmental regulations. In the late 1980s Clinty Chemicals identified the potential in providing cost effective and environmentally-friendly chemi-milling solutions to the aerospace industry

In 1997, Clinty Regen, a subsidiary of Clinty Chemicals was formed. With an awareness of increasing environmental legislation and spiralling disposal costs, Clinty Regen recognised the positive impact its chemical regeneration process could have on the chemi-milling industry by reducing disposal and environmental costs whilst improving process efficiencies. Over the years Clinty Regen has built up an enviable reputation for its manufacturing processes and green credentials gaining recognition in both the Manufacturing Industry Achievement Award and the Green Apple Award.

In 2015, Wilson Salt moved to new premises in Duncrue Street and in 2016, the administration offices of the Wilson Resources Group joined them at the new site.