McGirr Engineering Ltd in Sixmilecross, Co Tyrone has won its first export business after taking part in an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to South Africa last September.
The company, which manufactures block making machinery at its base near Omagh, has signed a £100,000 deal to supply concrete block making equipment to a customer headquartered near Johannesburg, which also has a network of depots across South Africa.
The export breakthrough for the family-run business was announced by Director Peter McGirr and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.
Dr Kell said: “This is very encouraging news for this ambitious company in a marketplace with immense potential. We’ve been focusing on South Africa for a number of years because it is recognised as a key developing market in the so-called CIVITS group – China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa. The South African economy has largely escaped the worst of the recession and is continuing to grow particularly in terms of investment in infrastructure.
“The South African government is currently projecting GDP growth of 3.4 per cent this year, over four per cent in 2012 and is committed to spending substantial amounts on areas such as health, education and housing, as well as infrastructure development. While many other nations are cutting spending, the recent South African budget focused on measures to help grow the economy faster.
“We now have a significant cluster of local companies across a range of sectors including construction and materials handling doing good business in South Africa. Their success is helping to establish Northern Ireland’s credentials with businesses in the market as a supplier of high quality products and services.
“Our next trade mission to South Africa is scheduled for May and we have had significant interest in this from local companies. We would like to see many other companies follow the example set by McGirr Engineering and build good business in South Africa.”
Mr McGirr, commenting on the new business, said: “This is an immensely important deal for us and one which we hope will lead to further business in South Africa and in other global markets. We are also looking at opportunities for our machinery in Brazil and Saudi Arabia following our recent participation in trade missions to these countries
“We had been considering a move into exports for some time and decided to grasp the trade mission opportunity. What forced us to look abroad was the downturn in our main markets of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
“We looked at markets which were investing in buildings – schools, hospitals and houses – and decided, with Invest NI’s encouragement to look at South Africa. Invest NI helped us with market research and also by lining up a programme of meetings with potential clients there.
“The customer was attracted by the benefits of our machinery especially its cost effectiveness and its capability of producing in excess of 100,000 concrete bricks per day,” he added.