Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Olympics made gold for one in four Ulster firms

Northern Ireland firms took gold during the 2012 Olympics, with over a quarter - more than the host city London - reporting a boost in business due to the Games.

In a poll, 27.8% of companies reported increased turnover as a result of the Olympics.

The latest Business Barometer, commissioned by Close Brothers' commercial division to assess how profitable the London Olympic Games were, found that Northern Ireland topped the poll, in contrast to the 22% of businesses from London which reported a rise in profits.

While the figures are positive, they don't quite live up to the Olympic Games Organising Committee's initial estimate that the 2012 London Olympics would generate £6.5bn worth of business.

Harry Parkinson, MD of Close Brothers Commercial Finance in Ireland, said that 52.7% of the firms which reported gains were larger businesses that have a £5m plus turnover a year.

"Industries such as transport and wholesale and distribution were also highlighted as the key sectors that benefited mostly from increased sales or brand awareness," he said.

Northern Ireland firms which won Olympic business included H-amp;J Martin, which fitted out the International Broadcast Centre that hosted 20,000 journalists from around the world, Lagan Construction, which built the central footbridge to the Olympic Stadium, Translink, which supplied coaches, and Boyd Bedding of Co Tyrone which was sole supplier of wood shavings for the equestrian area.

This week Gerry Walsh, originally from Bellaghy and head of procurement with Locog, the company which organised the Olympic Games, encouraged Northern Ireland firms to keep chasing Olympic business.

"They should say, 'If we can do London 2012, we can do Rio 2016'," he said.