Invest NI helps Belfast firm achieve export success

Belfast firm James Leckey Design Ltd has almost doubled its overseas sales in the last three years, thanks to support from Invest Northern Ireland.

James Leckey Design supplies innovative postural support systems for children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and other disabilities. The products help children with activities such as sitting, walking, standing and sleeping.

With support from Invest NI, James Leckey Design developed the “Squiggles” range, for children aged 1-5, and ramped up its overseas marketing activities. This enabled the firm to better exploit existing distribution channels to North America, Europe and Asia. As a result, sales to these regions have risen by 84 per cent since 2005 and accounted for almost 40 per cent of total turnover last year.

Gary O’Hagan, Managing Director of James Leckey Design, said: “We take a clinically-focused approach to design to create effective systems which cater for the postural needs of children with severe physical and learning disabilities. Incorporating the advice of specialist therapists and paediatricians, our products became best sellers in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and we also began to see international sales success.

“Following analysis of the market, and expert advice, we recognised an opportunity to expand our product range and, with R&D support from Invest NI, invented the Squiggles system to assist disabled children at what is perhaps the most important developmental stage in their lives.”

Mr O’Hagan continued: “Squiggles products have the added advantage of being visually attractive and stimulating for the children, making them more than simply functional equipment. This has given us a competitive edge, with customers commenting on the stylish design combined with ease-of-use and the high level of postural support they needed.”

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “With Invest NI’s support, James Leckey Design has demonstrated a long term commitment to innovation and design that is reaping dividends for the company’s performance in the lucrative Asian, European and American markets.

“By knowing its customer base, utilising cutting edge design techniques and employing a co-ordinated marketing strategy, the company has become a globally recognised leader in its field and is well positioned to continue the significant growth it has experienced during the last few years.”

Invest NI provided research and development funding for this project through its COMPETE programme, which is part funded by the European Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).