High note for guitar firm as it secures Japanese sales

Invest Northern Ireland has helped quality guitar designer Dermot McIlroy to win his first sales in Japan and increase his sales across Europe, in particular The Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

Established in 2000, McIlroy Guitars specialises in the manufacture of high end quality acoustic guitars which are used by musicians of all genres around the world.

Support from Invest NI enabled the company to exhibit at the Frankfurt Music Show in March which resulted in sales to Japan – the company’s first in the Far East – as well as Germany, The Netherlands and Italy.

Attendance at the trade event in Frankfurt has also led to world renowned Italian fingerstyle guitarists Franco Morone, Davide Mastrangelo and Gabriele Possenti inviting the company to host a guitar workshop in Tolentino, Italy.

Commenting on the export success Dermot McIlroy said: “This was our first time participating at a dedicated trade show and it has been extremely beneficial”.  

“Working with Invest NI through its North East Regional Office in Ballymena, I have been able to realise my export ambitions at a rapid but sustainable pace. Each of our guitars are individually handcrafted to the customer’s specifications, using solid timbers of the finest quality, so growth had to be carefully managed as guitars of this quality cannot be rapidly mass produced.

“It is this very process that has attracted some of the most discerning customers and has positioned us very strongly against our global competitors. The Japanese and European successes and also recent Australian sales, signal a new chapter in our growth. We aim to build on these sales going forward by developing our production capability and focusing on new designs that will ensure we fully exploit the niche craft guitar market.

“The Italian gathering has also helped McIlroy Guitars to profile its unique quality to an influential audience in Europe.”  

Gren Armstrong, Manger of Invest NI’s North Eastern Office in Ballymena added: “Thanks to regular market visits and participation in this trade event, McIlroy’s has already enjoyed success in GB, RoI, Australia and the US, attracting orders from artists who need to have confidence that a guitar will be produced to their individual requirements using the most innovative design and highly skilled manufacturing techniques.  

“There is a lucrative global market for the highest quality, handmade guitars however it is hugely competitive. The company’s ability to combine tradition with a modern twist has certainly contributed to the development of their export business. As a company, McIlroy is not afraid to push the boundaries of design and it is this frequent application of new techniques combined with a strong market presence that will continue to add value to the business.”