Fourds, the Draperstown manufacturer of a range of innovative window blinds, has broken into the French and German markets with support from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company has also seen its workforce more than triple to 15 since taking part in export programme to develop business in the Netherlands, where it was introduced by Invest NI to a Dutch business, who helped Fourds to distribute its blinds.
The partnership led to Fourds launching a Dutch language website and subsequently, the development of websites for France and Germany.
Cormac Diamond, Managing Director of Fourds, commenting on the new business, said: “The websites are now producing orders for the blinds and we are very excited about two new products that we’ve recently launched - a total light control blind for bedrooms and a new insect screen. Homeowners are currently unable to totally control light within their bedrooms whereas our new product blocks out the light 100 per cent. This system also draught proofs the window from cold outside air and reduces heat loss by up to 25 per cent, saving money for the homeowner.
“We are also developing a solar powered electric blind for skylights and standard windows due for launch in January 2011. This system eliminates the need for expensive rewiring within the home as it is powered by sunlight and can be fitted to almost any window. Our objective, supported by Invest NI, is to set ourselves apart from competitors in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe by developing a portfolio of innovative blinds. As a result of this focus, many of our products really are unique.
“Invest NI’s guidance and practical support for our commitment to innovation and European marketing activities are immensely important for our business. For instance, the introduction to our Dutch partner has been a great success and they helped us to grow our European business. We recognise now that sales abroad are currently the best route to profitable growth.”
Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Office Manager, welcoming the company’s breakthrough in the French and German markets, said: “Fourds is demonstrating how a smaller company can achieve success abroad by focusing its resources on innovative products for sale outside Northern Ireland. It is making particularly effective use of e-commerce technology to reach a wide audience with its portfolio of window blinds.
“The business it has started to generate from France and Germany, two of the world’s most competitive and quality conscious markets, will give this progressive local company the experience and confidence to target other global markets.
“Our support has been geared to assist Fourds to develop the capability to compete globally by encouraging investment on innovative products and to implement measures, including the harnessing of e-commerce technology that will help it to achieve success. The company clearly recognises that it must export for growth. The success of this strategy is also seen in the 11 new jobs that have been created in Draperstown since it began to explore business in the Netherlands in 2009.”
Copyright: Harrison Photography
Pictured is Cormac Diamond,Managing Director of Fourds Ltd in Draperstown, with Des Gartland, Manager of Invest NI North West Office,with one of company's window blind products.