New jobs in Co Down as luggage courier Sendmybag.com launches office in the United States
Independent luggage courier Sendmybag.com has confirmed it is setting up a branch in New York, creating a dozen new jobs shared between the new US base and its Co Down headquarters.
The baggage carrier, started by Bangor entrepreneur Adam Ewart, has launched 50 new routes from Europe to the US with luggage shipping charges starting at $99 (£63).
The Big Apple office was launched to provide in-country customer service support and a marketing base for SendMyBag in America.
The branch is scheduled to open next week and follows last month's launch of its Irish website to offer an alternative to rising airline premiums.
Mr Ewart confirmed the move would result in at least 10 new posts over the next six-to-12 months.
The first positions are being advertised for the Bangor office this month, including a junior developer, marketing executive and two customer services personnel.
In the past 18 months, the luggage-carrying company has delivered more than 100,000 bags and parcels to over 90 countries worldwide on over 200 routes from the UK.
It all began after successfully exploiting the student market, which was the seed that germinated into Mr Ewart's growing business - a door-to-door baggage service which allows people to ship their baggage at cheaper rates than those charged by airlines.
The businessman said the new routes follow a growing global demand for the service.
"Following our growth in Europe, our $99 USA routes represent a huge departure from the traditional idea of transatlantic luggage concierge services," he said.
"Faced with growing airline charges and shrinking allowances, our rates allow you to send your luggage door to door for less than what United or Delta will charge you for being 1lb over limit."
Stressing that the service dispenses with the surprise excess baggage fees at departure, Mr Ewart said the next-day services combined with tracking capacity also meant no more check-in, baggage carousel waits or lost luggage.
The entrepreneur maintains his service is necessary because airlines "simply don't want your luggage".
"Baggage represents significant direct costs and is a barrier to the ultimate low-cost model of hand baggage-only flights with no check-in desks, no baggage carousels etc," he added.
"Fees are being used in order to change behaviour and ultimately reduce the amount of baggage checked.
"Despite airlines using fees and other methods to change behaviour, it's simply not realistic for everyone to travel without luggage - and this is fuelling SendMyBag's worldwide growth."
Norman Apsley, chief executive of Northern Ireland Science Park - which is home to many technology start-ups - said there were no limits to ambitious companies like SendMyBag.
"We are now working in a global economy and it is welcome news to hear of Northern Ireland companies looking further afield for new business opportunities," he said.
"Outward direct investment is a key part of any business strategy and our local companies should continue to seek significant opportunities for expansion."
He said that the companies enjoying growth in the science park had recognised that they didn't need to limit their ambitions to Northern Ireland, and that they could branch into global markets from their base here.
The luggage firm has benefited from seed funding from Northern Ireland financiers, Lough Shore Investments, which helped fund international expansion.