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Antrim Hills lands major Emirates contract

By Margaret Canning

The first company in Northern Ireland to sell bottled water has won major export business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Antrim Hills, which launched in 1989, will sell its Water Within brand in Dubai Duty Free, in a deal worth an undisclosed sum.

Founder Sam Geary said the firm was the first to sell bottled water in Northern Ireland. And he revealed that the company is also exporting to China.

His son Peter, now chief executive of the Ballyclare-based firm, is currently in Dubai on business.

Mr Geary said: "Over the last number of years we have worked hard to develop our brand and communicate the uniqueness of its natural artesian source.

"Working closely with Invest NI and the in-market advice we have received from its team in Dubai has been immensely important to our business over many years."

And he said "nurturing relationships" was key to getting established in the market.

"Over the course of many visits to Dubai, we have developed a special relationship with our distributor and look forward to building upon it to deliver this immensely important contract."

Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, was with the company on a visit to the UAE.

"This is a very important contract for this family-owned business and will see the Water Within range on the shelves of one of the leading airport retailers in the world," he said.

Mr Hamilton said the firm was first introduced to Dubai Duty Free in 2014 and was now the only brand from here in the market.

And he praised Antrim Hills for investing time in developing relationships with the Middle East.

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