Belfast Telegraph

Support scheme sees firms expand trade in the Republic

By Margaret Canning

A machinery firm in Co Antrim has tripled its business in the Republic of Ireland thanks to an annual cross-border business support programme launched today.

Small businesses in Northern Ireland can gain up to £5,000 in sector-specific support from InterTradeIreland as part of Elevate.

Firms in as diverse sectors as baking and machinery have taken part, which InterTrade said had helped around 245 firms gain cross-border sales of around £2.6m.

There are 100 industry specialists lending their expertise in identifying sales leads, negotiation, market insights and advice.

Advance Machinery Installation in Antrim, which specialises in relocating machinery, previously took part in the programme.

Their clients including big manufacturers such as Ryobi, Coca-Cola HBC Ltd and Diageo.

Before the programme, just 10% of its business was in the Republic - but Elevate enabled it to triple its southern business to account for 30% of its work.

Director Alistair Carson said the programme helped it chase up leads it would previously have neglected. "What we have achieved within six months from the Elevate programme would have taken us years. Where we had previously relied on the phone ringing to get jobs in the south, our Elevate consultant had turned this approach on its head and now we were actively pursuing business.

"This approach has highlighted that there really are opportunities out there if you go looking for them." Since it took part it has won major contracts with firms in the Republic such as Sonoco, Manninckrodt and Norland.

Anna Taggart of Yummy Bakes in Newtonabbey also took part in the programme. She sells frozen pre-mixed bakery goods to cafes.

Taking part in Elevate enabled her to gain a distributor in the Republic - and to have her products listed in Dunnes stores.

Negotiations are also taking place with a big catering organisation, which could result in Yummy Bakes being supplied to its 80 customers.

Thomas Hunter McGowan, chief executive of InterTradeIreland, said: "As small companies make up 96% of businesses on the island it is essential that they receive the support they require to expand and flourish."

All small businesses on the island of Ireland with turnover of less than £1m are eligible for Elevate.

For more information visit www.intertradeireland/elevate

Belfast Telegraph