Export markets have nowhere to hide from County Down firm

Invest Northern Ireland is supporting a £65,000 investment by Hilltown based Crawford Hide Company which will enable the firm to increase its export turnover by around 70% over two years.

Crawford Hide processes raw animal hides from suppliers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland into complete treated hides for export to leather goods manufacturers around the world.

The investment, supported by Invest NI through its new Growth Accelerator Programme, will enable the company to promote a new range of products to specific target markets, from Great Britain and mainland Europe, to India and China. An operations manager will also be appointed as part of the project.

After identifying opportunities for particular hide products in a number of countries, the firm has developed a range of premium treated hide cuts for export. These cuts have differing market values and the new approach will maximise the achievable profit margin.

Owner Barney Crawford is confident that his firm can exploit the opportunities that exist: “We have been processing complete animal hides since 2002, with significant success in export markets. After carrying out extensive research, it became clear that by splitting a hide into its component parts and selling them separately, we could maximise the profit from each hide, just as some cuts of meat are more valuable than others.

“Specific hide components are required by processors to produce the raw material used to manufacture such items as gloves, saddlery, designer belts and other luxury goods. We have identified the optimum markets for each specific part of the hide and, with Invest NI’s support, can now target our marketing activities accordingly.”

He added: “Our new Operations Manager will help to further improve our processes and increase our output, enabling us to meet the anticipated increase in demand from abroad. I expect to see this strategy increase our export turnover by over 70% within the next 18 to 24 months.”

Mark Bleakney, Manager of Invest NI’s Southern Regional Office, says: “Crawford Hide is an excellent example of a local company seeking to build on its successes in foreign markets through diversification of its products and a targeted marketing strategy.

“Invest NI’s new Growth Accelerator Programme can help local SMEs like the Crawford Hide Company to achieve improved turnover in external markets. Firms who think they could benefit from the programme should contact their Invest NI Regional Office for more information.”