When business from the Republic of Ireland took a downturn, Kilkeel-based Henning Brothers turned to Invest Northern Ireland for help to find replacement business. It has now developed a new market for frozen crab products in the Netherlands.
Following close inspection of the opportunities available, Invest NI assisted the company, which employs 15 people, to switch its business focus to the Netherlands by joining its ‘Going Dutch’ programme.
The programme put Henning Brothers in contact with marketing experts from Northern Ireland Trade Consultants (NITC) in Amsterdam who provided extensive market briefings, essential in-market desk research and one-to-one guidance on opportunities for its frozen crabmeat and crab claws. The discussions enabled the company to discover an opportunity to introduce crabmeat and crab claws as a new offering to the Dutch market.
Harold Henning, managing director of Henning Brothers, said: “NITC provided essential guidance about how to do business in the Netherlands. It meant we were able to avoid any potential pitfalls in areas such as payment for products, or misunderstandings that could arise from negotiations.”
The company took part in a week-long trade mission to the Dutch market, part funded by Invest NI. NITC lined up a schedule of meetings for Henning Brothers with potential customers and also took care of transport arrangements and provided a fluent Dutch speaker to help with presentations and negotiations.
NITC identified several key seafood wholesalers in Amsterdam and provided essential information about these and particularly their financial status.
On returning to Northern Ireland armed with the requirements of its potential customers, Henning Brothers followed up the leads quickly and business was agreed. Consignments of crabmeat and crab claws were shipped for market testing in high-end restaurants and hotels throughout the country. The products proved popular and repeat business has followed.
Harold Henning, managing director of Henning Brothers, said: “Going Dutch proved to be a wise move for us. We wouldn’t have developed this new market without Invest NI’s advice and practical support.”
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