Belfast Telegraph

Co Down company in fashion as it bags 10 jobs

By Margaret Canning

A fashion accessory company in Co Down is taking on 10 more staff and creating a new online store to grow its sales.

Pia Rossini in Bangor was set up by Philip and Debbie Shaw in 1999 as a fashion wholesaler and is now achieving sales of up to £4m every year.

Now the business is also branching out into a business to consumer operation, and is selling its wares on shopping channel QVC.

Marketing manager Blayne Shaw said it’s also selling on the discount section of market-leading clothing website, ASOS. Mr Shaw — the son of the company’s founders — said: “QVC has been buying our stock in large quantities, and we sold out in the first morning of selling on the channel. 

“We will be selling through a prime-time slot at the end of this month and in October.”

He said that while ASOS was associated with a younger market than Pia Rossini’s usual customer base, the company hoped its products, ranging from scarves to handbags and beachwear, would soon be sold on the main ASOS website.

Pia Rossini is also revamping its own website to increase its sales direct to consumers. Mr Shaw added: “We have always had people asking to buy direct from us. The demand has been increasing and it was important to us to start selling direct.”

The company’s marketing activities and its recruitment of the new staff — on salaries of around £20,000 — have been supported by Invest NI, with assistance including a £48,000 employment grant. 

Recruitment has started for the new roles, which include linguists for customer service roles, as well as sales positions and warehouse staff. Around five are already in place — increasing the company’s workforce to 31 in Bangor. 

It’s recruited two new staff in the US, where it’s stocked in high-end hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in Orlando. Mr Shaw explained: “We were at a trade show in Las Vegas recently and saw our products on sale in the Bellagio Hotel.”

Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s director of consumer products, welcomed the firm’s growth.

“Pia Rossini is a unique enterprise which has grown dramatically in recent years, developing into a renowned women’s accessories brand in the global marketplace.

“Its new online store, targeting the retail market, will support the company’s growth in Europe and expansion into new markets, such as the Middle East.

“The £48,000 employment grant Invest NI has offered towards the 10 new jobs will help Pia Rossini put in place the resources and skills needed to meet the surge in orders it anticipates in the coming months.”

She said the investment was “good news” for the Ards and North Down council area, with the jobs generating salaries of around £204,600 in total.

Pia Rossini’s products include its new resort line of hats, scarves, shawls, capes, ponchos, handbags and gloves, which are supplied to boutiques and stores throughout the UK and distributed all around the world.

Debbie Shaw, co-founder of Pia Rossini, added: “This expansion is an important investment for us as we work towards expanding our international customer base.

“The recent re-brand gives us a vibrant, fresher and more recognisable image, and our new e-commerce website will be a crucial new platform to drive retail sales across Europe and beyond.

“Invest NI’s support with our marketing activities and recruiting 10 new staff is enabling us to push forward with our development plans as we aim to achieve sales growth of over 30%.”

Belfast Telegraph