eBay training consultancy backed by Invest NI

Irish art entrepreneur Michael Hughes is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop a unique eBay training consultancy geared towards the local market and particularly the Republic of Ireland.

Michael Hughes Consulting, the new company he has established in Portstewart, is based on the expertise and experience he has gained through his work as an eBay University approved trainer.

He was the first eBay trained and approved ‘Education Specialist’ on the island of Ireland, the first eBay ‘Featured Instructor’ in Europe,is currently the UK’s only ‘Five Star Instructor’, (the highest ranking possible), and was eBay’s “Instructor of the Week” worldwide in early June 2007.

The new company will deliver sales training programmes to businesses and individuals in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It has received assistance from Invest NI’s North West Regional Office (NWRO) in Londonderry.

Mr Hughes has been in business in Northern Ireland for over 20 years as the founder and managing director of Hughes Galleries Ltd, the parent company of the Irish Art Group, which has three art galleries in Portstewart and one at Glenshesk. He also runs an online eBay shop from his base in Portstewart.

Invest NI is assisting the new company to develop its marketing activities especially in the Irish Republic. This assistance was announced today by Mary Gormley, Invest NI’s NWRO Manager.

Mrs Gormley said: “This is an innovative and entrepreneurial business venture with significant export potential that’s geared to help other businesses harness the global opportunities provided by eBay as part of their sales activities. eBay is now firmly established as one of the world’s biggest on-line marketplaces.

“The new company has been formed by an experienced businessman who has identified the eBay opportunity and has a successful track record of selling printed collectables worldwide through this immensely important global marketing medium,” added Mrs Gormley.

Mr Hughes, commenting on the new business, said: “I first started selling printed collectables including Victorian prints, Edwardian postcards, cigarette cards and vintage movie posters on eBay over three years’ ago. Initially, it was an experiment to clear some old stock in my warehouse and it proved a great success.

“This led me to find out as much as I could about eBay and then to train as an instructor. A number of organisations such as Invest NI, local enterprise agencies, Chambers of Commerce, NIE Energy and the Crafts Council of Ireland asked me to run training courses for them.

“These and other approaches, including from eBay Ireland, led me to set up the new consultancy to offer a unique and highly experienced sales training resource throughout the island of Ireland. Currently there are some 600,000 registered eBay users across Ireland and numbers are growing rapidly. This indicates the interest in eBay and the size of the market.

“My company will market the training programmes that I have developed to enable firms and individuals to gain eBay sales capability that will also ensure they avoid any problems in areas such as payment,” he added.

Founded in September 1995, eBay is an online marketplace with a global presence in 37 markets, including the US. It has 261 million registered users worldwide and net revenue of over $1 billion in 2007. Some $52 billion worth of merchandise, computers, clothing and industrial products, including cars and electronics were sold on eBay during 2007.

At the end of the first quarter of 2007, eBay hosted approximately 632,000 stores worldwide, with approximately 57 percent of stores hosted on eBay's international sites.

The UK site was launched in the UK in October 1999 and is the UK's largest online marketplace and its number one e-commerce site. It reached the 15 million customers milestone in May 2006. Around 47 per cent of internet users visit eBay.co.uk at least once a month and it accounts for 11 per cent of all the time UK users spend on the internet.