Inspiring Exporters


Steve Harper, Executive Director of International Business
Feb 28, 2018

It is well known that businesses which export are more likely to grow.

It is therefore always great to hear of export successes for Northern Ireland companies.

Newtownards based Shnuggle, Dungannon based SpecDrum, Saintfield based Rockin Colour and Belfast based wine and Spirit Merchant BOTL have all secured orders to supply their products in international markets using our trade support to visit the market, identify potential partners and set up meetings.

Export successes:

  • Rockin Colour has appointed partners in the Netherlands and France. Its first order was for six lorry loads of colour coated decorative stone to a company in the Netherlands and has shipped 20 loads to its new distribution partner in France. RockinColour stone is also being used for the runways as part of Paris Fashion Week.
  • Baby product manufacturer, Shnuggle has secured orders with ALCA, a Canadian distributor of baby products following a market visit in January 2018. ALCA will distribute the full range of Shnuggle products to all major retailers and independent retailers in the US & Canada.
  • Manufacturing firm, SpecDrum has secured new business to supply a range of its conveyor pulleys to a distributor in the US worth £45,000.
  • BOTL Wine & Spirits Merchants, a leading distributor and wholesaler has secured an order for 1,700 cases of its Butterfly Rum product with a Russian Retailer estimated to be worth £110,000. Invest NI offered the company support towards four new roles to help drive its exports.

Export-led growth is essential to the development of the Northern Ireland economy and leads to a stronger and more competitive business community. Between October 2016 and September 2017, Northern Ireland companies exported £8.53billion to countries around the world, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. We want to continue that growth and have placed supporting our customers to grow exports and external sales as one of the three main targets of our 2017-2021 Business Strategy.

Between October 2016 and September 2017, Northern Ireland companies exported £8.53billion to countries around the world, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year.

To help inspire Northern Ireland businesses to export, we held an Inspiring Exporters event at Titanic Belfast. Between guest speakers and panel sessions 150 local businesses heard from successful exporters about how they have grown their businesses through exporting. Attendees were also able to pick up some pointers on optimising a sales pitch to secure those sought after export deals. It is this type of event which can really inspire companies to take those initial steps into a market.

If you’re not exporting you’re not communicating with 99% of the opportunity.

- Will Butler-Adams, Brompton Bicycle

At the event, Will Butler-Adams the entrepreneur behind Brompton Bicycle Limited shared his experiences of building Brompton Bicycle into a global success story. The £30m business exports 80 per cent of its bikes to 44 world markets. As just one per cent of the world’s population lives in the UK, Will firmly believes; “If you’re not exporting you’re not communicating with 99% of the opportunity.” Local exporters CDE Global, STATSports, Kukoon and Niche Drinks also shared their particular export journeys.


Whether you are a first-time exporter looking for your first market outside of Northern Ireland, or an experienced exporter looking to grow into new areas territories, we can help. Between our experienced team of trade advisors based here in Belfast, and our network of international offices and in-market advisors we have a wealth of knowledge, contacts and practical advice across all sectors and markets.

Our support includes:

  • International trade advisory services
  • Initial market entry and research services
  • Direct face-to-face contact with distributors and buyers of goods and services through inward buyer visits to Northern Ireland
  • Guidance on local regulation

Please contact your Client Manager or our Business Support Team, Tel 0800 181 4422 for help with your export journey.

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