Draperstown business succeeds by going Dutch

Sep 24, 2009

Draperstown engineering business, Fourds has been helped by Invest Northern Ireland to win their first business in the Netherlands for its innovative window blind system.

The company has formed a partnership in Amsterdam and is selling its products there following recent participation in Invest NI’s successful ‘Going Dutch’ programme.

‘Going Dutch’ helps companies in building first-time exports to this important European market through practical support there from Northern Ireland Trade Consultants, an Amsterdam based business.

Fourds has developed an innovative black-out blind system that features a unique fast-fit installation process with support from Invest NI’s North West Regional Office in Londonderry.

The company visited the Netherlands in April as part of the programme and was lined up with several potential partners keen to introduce its blinds to this important European market.

Fourds, in addition, has created a section of its website in the Dutch language as further support for the sales drive in the Netherlands.

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI’s Trade Director, welcomed the company’s business breakthrough in the Netherlands stating, “Going Dutch was launched by us to encourage companies new to export to explore opportunities in a market that has particularly close links with the UK.

“Over the past four years, Going Dutch has become one of our most successful initiatives for SMEs because of the very practical advice and guidance in the market from an organisation with an established network of business contacts.

“While Going Dutch has led to worthwhile business for many participating companies, the main focus of the programme is essentially on building exporting capability and confidence within individual firms.

“Our focus has also been on attracting participants new to exporting from across Northern Ireland through the Invest NI regional office network. All the Invest NI offices are now actively involved in the programme, and we are currently working with the North Eastern Regional Office in Ballymena to recruit companies from this area and south Londonderry for the next Going Dutch event in October,” added Dr Kell.

Cormac Diamond, Managing Director of Fourds, said: “Going Dutch was tremendously beneficial for us especially in terms of the support we received on-the-ground for lead generation, arranging meetings and help with language translation.

“As well as developing the partnership with a leading web based company in Amsterdam, I also gained a wealth of knowledge about the Dutch market and business procedures there. This will help me enormously as I work with our new partner to convert the many leads from the visit into further sales.

“The programme also indicated that the product offered advantages ahead of existing blinds currently available there. The challenge now is to increase market awareness and to ramp up sales as quickly as practicable. It has also given me the confidence to start looking for opportunities in other markets,” he added.

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