Belfast Telegraph

Mission in search of African investment

By Margaret Canning

Almost 30 Northern Ireland companies are in South Africa this week in a bid to get a foothold in the sub-Sahara region.

The businesses are part of an Invest NI trade mission and will showcase their products and services to potential customers.

The trade mission left Northern Ireland following the news that Lissadell Liddell in Lisburn – linked to a Dublin-based business which is now part of Vision Support Services Group – has won a £400,000 contract to supply linen products to a chain of hotels in east Africa.

Serena Hotels will now stock the company's linens in its hotels and safari lodges in locations including Nairobi, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "This impressive contract gives this export-focused company a strong base in one of Africa's most dynamic markets.

"Securing business with such a prestigious and growth focused hospitality group is a tremendous boost for a company which has been at the heart of the linen industry since 1866.

"It is among the most active local businesses outside Northern Ireland and has an impressive track record of success in even the most competitive regions that has benefited substantially from Invest Northern Ireland trade missions."

Barry Simms, the company's international sales director, said: "We secured the business because of the range of quality linens in our product portfolio, our successful track record with other prestigious hospitality groups in the UK, the Middle East and Asia, and the strength of our commitment to customer support.

"Our growth in international markets owes much to the excellent support from Invest NI especially through the trade mission programme. Missions are an extremely cost-efficient and effective way to develop business outside Northern Ireland," he added.

Arlene Foster said the trade mission was an important opportunity.

"Our focus on South Africa is designed to encourage and support local companies to do business in a market that can be used as an ideal springboard into other parts of Africa," said the minister.

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