Trade support helps Ulster Weavers double exports

Working with Invest Northern Ireland to access Asia and other global markets helped Holywood-based Ulster Weavers to double export sales over the past three years.

The company, which specialises in the design, manufacture and marketing of kitchen textiles and PVC bags, has recently secured new business totalling almost £250,000 from major department stores in South Korea, Russia, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and the Arabian Gulf.  

Among new retail customers recently secured by Ulster Weavers are ABC Group in Moscow, Shinsage, Seoul, Blue Salon in Doha, Qatar and Sovereign Hill, Brisbane. The company, which holds a Royal Warrant for its products and supplies the Royal Palaces and the National Trust in Great Britain, also recently secured a contract to supply products to the London Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2012.

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, said: “The achievements of this export-focused company in international markets show the benefits that can result from taking part in our comprehensive trade development support programme that enables local companies, both large and small, to explore opportunities particularly in dynamic markets such as Asia, the Middle East, and Russia.

“Ulster Weavers has used our trade missions very effectively as an integral part of the company’s global marketing strategy. Its participation in our mission programme to markets such as Asia Pacific and the Middle East, has assisted the company to achieve substantial growth in export sales.

“In addition, the company has made good use of the very extensive market data that’s readily available through our Business Information Service in Belfast to expand its knowledge of the regions it has targeted to grow its business.  There’s a wealth of market data that companies can access easily to support their export activities. They’ll also find experienced staff who can help them find up-to-date and accurate information about markets, business procedures and potential clients,” added Dr Kell.

Mark Graham, Asia Business Manager of Ulster Weavers, commenting on the company’s export achievements, said: “We’ve found trade missions to be a very efficient and highly cost-effective way of building our sales outside the United Kingdom and Ireland.  

“We now have established a network of key retail contacts, ideal reference sites for our products, in many of the most important international markets.

“As well as being very professionally organised by Invest NI, the missions enable us to access expert support in the various markets. This helps in setting up meetings with the people who can make decisions in organisations that we have targeted as potential customers.

“Travelling as a group is also a great way to explore new markets especially those in Asia Pacific. Over the past year, I’ve travelled with Invest NI missions to Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. I know I’ve learned a great deal about business procedures and practices in markets throughout Asia from fellow mission members with experience there.  

“Every mission produced a list of potential customers which I’ve followed up and been successful in turning into firm business for the company. Invest NI missions work really well for us.”