Tyrone Firm Finds the "Kea" to Export Success

Fivemiletown-based Kea Designer Sportswear UK has just announced a £350,000 expansion - supported by Invest Northern Ireland – aimed at enhancing export market opportunities for the company’s range of elite, design-led sportswear.

Kea Designer Sportswear UK was established as a joint venture between Cooneen Textiles Ltd - also based in Fivemiletown - and Kea Australia in 2003. The investment will support Kea Sportswear UK’s sales and marketing function in the GB market and help the firm develop a presence in new niche markets.

“Our Fivemiletown operation is the only Kea subsidiary based in Europe,” says Eugene Greene, managing director, Kea Designer Sportswear UK and Cooneen Textiles Ltd.

“Since we formed our partnership with Kea Australia, Kea UK has gone from strength to strength, increasing turnover by more than 50% annually. This investment will facilitate our growth in new and existing export markets, helping us to build recognition of the Kea brand and develop our customer relationship management strategy.

“Our design focus and commitment to producing elite sportswear with an innovative, value added edge, combined with a local manufacturing site and a bespoke service, places us in an excellent position to service the increased growth that is anticipated as a result of this investment. ”

The firm recently won contracts to design, manufacture and supply sports to high-profile customers including the Great Britain Rowing Team and the UK Sport World Class Performance Programme. Kea is now actively targeting the growing school sportswear market with their custom design service in order to further increase Kea’s brand identity.

Professor Terri Scott, managing director, Clients and Entrepreneurship at Invest NI added: “The local textiles and clothing sector must diversify and use innovation to exploit niche market opportunities, whilst responding quickly to market demands if it is to challenge the competition from low cost economies.

“Kea Sportswear UK has already made significant progress in the GB market but crucially has also realised that the premier sportswear sector in GB has much more potential than is reflected by current market activity. By recognising that they cannot compete on cost alone, the firm has embedded a strong design and customer focused ethos into their business strategy which will help them to successfully target new, highly specialised sportswear markets using quality, innovation, and performance to differentiate their products and services from competitors.”