Invest Northern Ireland has helped The Zipyard, a Belfast-based clothing alterations firm, to increase its turnover by selling franchise licences to clients in Dublin and Limerick.
This has enabled these customers to open outlets using The Zipyard brand in the Republic of Ireland for the first time.
Invest NI’s Director of Regional Economic Development, Graham Davis, said: “When locally-based firms such as The Zipyard expand by selling the rights for their business models and brands to be used outside Northern Ireland, our economy benefits.”
Highlighting the entrepreneurial way in which The Zipyard has grown to date, Mr Davis continued: “After opening outlets in a number of areas locally, The Zipyard then explored market opportunities in the Republic of Ireland, with our support, and its recent deals in Dublin and Limerick could well be the first steps towards more extensive growth for this Northern Ireland brand.
“The business was established after its founders recognised a gap in the clothing alterations market and took steps to develop a distinctive, contemporary brand and provide its tailoring services in a highly differentiated modern environment.”
Bob Turner, Co-Founder of The Zipyard, said: “This is a very exciting time for us. Since we established the firm in 2005 we have looked forward to the day when The Zipyard would gain regional recognition, and the opening of outlets in the Republic of Ireland represents significant progress for our brand. Invest NI provided us with valuable marketing guidance, giving us greater confidence and know-how when promoting our franchise outside Northern Ireland. It also helped us to participate in a franchise exhibition in the Republic of Ireland, which led to these licensing deals.
“The Zipyard business model is simple, and franchisees recognise the extensive benefits of buying one of our licences to open an alterations store. Franchisees are assured of low-entry costs and a fast return on their investment. Our brand is strong, and this helps to attract end customers into The Zipyard outlets as they know they will get a reliable service. We provide full training to franchisees and their staff to ensure that the service standards are the highest available and we maintain our reputation as a top quality alterations provider.”
Mr Turner continued: “The clothing alterations business thrives in all economic conditions. When people’s finances are limited, they prefer to have clothes repaired so they last longer, and when things are going well people tend to need their new suits and dresses altered for a better fit.”