Innovation opens new market opportunities for Londonderry marine company

Jun 23, 2010

Copyright Harrison Photography In picture is Francis O'Loughlin, Managing Director of North Atlantic Rib Marine, showing Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Office Manager, the new seating system developed by the company.

Invest Northern Ireland has assisted North Atlantic Rib Marine in Londonderry with the development of an innovative seating system for its rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). The company, based at Springtown, received assistance with the design, development and market testing of a new and more robust straddle seating system for the craft.

North Atlantic Rib Marine distributes the ASIS range of boats to a portfolio of commercial and leisure customers across the UK, Ireland and Europe, including Germany, Norway, Netherlands and the Canary Islands.  This progressive company has been working with Invest NI to develop a range of bespoke accessories that will enable the boats to be customised to meet the individual needs of their customers.

The development of this unique straddle seating system means that the Derry company is now in a position to offer a unique range of seating and control options to its customers. In addition, it provides a free consultancy service to advise customers on the layout of their boat.

Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Office Manager, welcomed North Atlantic Rib Marine’s approach, saying: “Encouraging and assisting smaller companies in particular to strengthen sales through product development and improvement is a key element of our strategy. We’ve been working with North Atlantic Rib Marine on initiatives that add significant value to the range of craft. This includes a focus on innovative solutions and specific design features.

“North Atlantic Rib Marine is a good example of how a smaller business can succeed in a very challenging marketplace by continually seeking ways to enhance the products and services to customers especially in markets outside Northern Ireland. Investing time and resources has proven beneficial and has made the craft even more competitive in its target markets.

“Our support for an ambitious and export-led business has also included measures to enable the company to develop its marketing capability and achieve its export sales objectives,” he added.

Francis O’Loughlin, North Atlantic Rib Marine Managing Director, said: “The development of the new straddle seating system began about six months ago. We embarked on this initiative to keep ahead of the market and to provide RIB enthusiasts with quality seating options.

“Invest NI has been tremendously supportive and has helped us to grow the business through a number of export marketing programmes, as well as through product design and development,” he added.

North Atlantic Rib Marine is now offering a range of ASIS boats with Safety of Life at Sea, (Solas), approval for commercial marine and offshore industries across Europe.

The RIB market is now the fastest growth area of the leisure boat market and accounts for 60 per cent of all leisure boats bought in the United Kingdom market.

RIBs developed by the company have been exhibited at major marine events in the UK, Ireland and other parts of Europe. A dealer network has also been established across Europe.

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