Foster announces export deal for Cookstown company in Saudi Arabia

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today announced the first export order to Saudi Arabia for Cookstown-company, AES Distribution.

The contract is with a business in Riyadh and could be worth around £500,000. AES is providing an access system that enables users to operate security gates from a mobile phone.

The Minister congratulated the company, which will be among 30 local firms taking part in an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to Saudi Arabia. The delegation will be meeting Saudi business leaders in Riyadh and Al Khobar, from 4-11 February.

Arlene Foster said: “AES is an excellent example of how a small company with innovative technology can succeed in one of the world’s most important and competitive marketplaces. While the company has technology unique to this market, it still had to present it professionally, follow up leads and demonstrate that it really valued the business in Saudi.

“This determination not only secured the contract, but it should lead to repeat business and new opportunities for this ambitious company.”

AES is also in the final stage of negotiations to supply its technology to a company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s main port and second biggest city. Initial contacts which led to the business came from last year’s Invest NI mission to Riyadh and Jeddah.

The Minister added: “Many smaller companies, including several on the forthcoming visit, are taking advantage of Invest Northern Ireland trade missions to Saudi Arabia to gain a foothold in this dynamic global market.

“The core priority of the Executive’s proposed economic strategy is to drive export led economic growth. We need to see more smaller companies taking advantage of Invest NI’s comprehensive programme of trade missions and exhibitions to grow their exports in Saudi Arabia and other markets.”

AES Managing Director Paul Creighton, who formed the business in 2009, said: “Securing this initial contract for our GSM technology in Saudi Arabia is a massive boost and is a further justification of our strategic focus on export markets. I set up the business in 2009 to develop sales abroad because I recognised that the economic conditions in the UK and Ireland didn’t really offer scope for the sort of growth I wanted to see. Subsequent events have shown that this was the correct strategy.

“As a result of this focus on exports, we are now doing good business in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and Singapore. Opportunities are developing in these markets for us to expand sales. Saudi will become an important market and will also give us a base to expand into the neighbouring Gulf markets, including Oman, where there is significant interest in our technology.

“Saudi contacts were attracted to our technology because there is currently nothing in the market which extends the functionality of a mobile phone into an access or security device. Security, of course, is an important issue there.”