Picture: Michael Cooper
Pictured are Jenny Mullan, Business Development Manager at Aria Clothing, and Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.
Aria Clothing in Belfast has won new business in the Netherlands for fashion garments, following its participation in an Invest Northern Ireland trade programme.
The company is now supplying ladies’ Aria branded fashions to independent boutiques in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities with help from Invest NI’s Going Dutch initiative. The company has also signed up agents in Belgium and Sweden and expects to see its clothing on sale in these markets early in 2012.
The new export business in the Netherlands was announced by Jenny Mullan, Aria Clothing’s Business Development Manager, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director. Aria Clothing is based at Somerton Industrial Estate, Dargan Crescent and currently employs 20 people in the design, make-up and marketing of the established Aria and Arianna fashion brands.
Dr Kell said: “Aria Clothing’s success in the Netherlands is a further demonstration of the willingness of Dutch companies to do business with proactive Northern Ireland firms from the broadest range of industries.
“Over the past few years, we’ve assisted smaller companies in virtually every sector, from fish to window blinds and engineering services to recycling equipment to develop relationships which have led to worthwhile business in what is an extremely competitive marketplace. The Going Dutch initiative has given companies the skills, support and confidence to compete. Many have gone on to develop good business in neighbouring markets.
“With the increase in flights to Amsterdam, it is now easier to reach the Netherlands from Belfast than London. NI companies have demonstrated great success in doing business in the Netherlands. As the recent achievements there by Aria Clothing and Henning Fish show, the Netherlands is very definitely open for business with our companies,” added Dr Kell.
Jenny Mullan said: “Taking part in the Going Dutch programme provided the platform for us to launch our brands in this important market and to identify other opportunities in Belgium and Sweden.
“Going Dutch is proving to be extremely beneficial to the business. We now have over 80 independent boutiques stocking our garments in the Netherlands and the Dutch market accounts for 25 per cent of our turnover.
“It enabled us to access expert advice and practical support from Northern Ireland Trade Consultants in Amsterdam which led to an agreement with the Mimatex Agency at the World Fashion Centre there.
“Our clothing collections are proving popular in the Netherlands because our garments feature longer lengths than those produced by other European designers and are better suited to the requirements of the Dutch marketplace. Aria is a collection of co-ordinated separates and targets the stylish professional woman who wants wearable and comfortable clothes for all occasions but also wants to be at the forefront of fashion.
“Arianna is a more luxurious yet affordable collection of dresses in bold, colourful prints and quirky statement pieces for the 25+ market.
“Our strategic focus in 2012 will be to support our agents with their sales activities and to develop retail brand awareness in these key markets. By spring 2012, we expect to be present in over 350 European boutiques.”