Twelve companies arrived in Lille today at the start of an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to France. The companies will also be visiting Lyon during the week-long business trip.
Participating companies will also be able to explore business opportunities in other centres throughout France, including Paris. Most of the companies on the mission are new to the Lille and Lyon regional markets and many are seeking to arrange representation there. The Northern Ireland group includes a cluster of companies offering products and services for the environmental industry in France.
The companies have been helped to line up business meetings by Invest NI and the Commercial Teams of the UK Diplomatic posts in France.
The mission is the second organised by Invest NI to a major EU market this year, following the very successful visit to the Netherlands in February. On this trip the Northern Ireland group is being supported by the Enterprise Europe Network office in Belfast.
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, commenting on the mission, said: “Customers in France currently buy products and services from Northern Ireland worth around £220 million.
“France represents almost 17 per cent of our £1.5 billion annual exports to the Continent and is Northern Ireland’s second largest European market after Germany.
“Our investment links with France are also strong. The French-owned company, Teleperformance, for instance, recently announced a very substantial expansion at its operation in Newry. Michelin and Montupet both have significant manufacturing operations in Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland currently supplies a broad range of products and services including machinery and food. Among food products sourced from Northern Ireland by French retailers for example are beef, seafood and cheese. We’ve chosen Lille and Lyon because both are long-established business centres, strategically positioned in the north and central regions of the country.
“Both centres are ideal platforms from which to develop business in France and neighbouring markets including Belgium and Switzerland.”