Belfast Telegraph

Ulster company adds new string to its bow

By David Elliot

A Dundonald musical instrument manufacturer has signed a £1m contract to supply guitars and ukeleles to Germany.

IBC Trading won the five-year contract with Hohner, based at Trossingen in southern Germany, after making contact with the company on an Invest NI trade mission to China.

Formed in 1857, Hohner has long been regarded as the world leader in the design and manufacture of harmonicas and accordions. The company is also now a major supplier of a broad range of musical instruments to customers worldwide.

Iain Wilson, IBC Trading's Managing Director, said the deal was a coup for the company.

"It's currently our biggest-ever contract from a single customer and positions us for growth with a company that's focused on expanding its product range and its global market reach."

"It will involve us supplying guitars under the Hohner brand and ukuleles under Lanikai and Kohala, internationally recognised brands. The instruments, due for delivery before the end of this year, are now being manufactured in China and Indonesia to designs that we've developed with the Hohner team in Germany.

He said help from Invest NI has proved valuable.

"The support has enabled us to explore opportunities in many international markets for our products and also to develop business relationships with suppliers. In fact, I probably wouldn't have won the business if I hadn't participated in the mission to China."

Dr Kell Vicky from Invest NI said: "IBC's success with Hohner is an excellent example of how a trade mission to one market can lead directly to business in another. IBC was part of our mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai last November and met the Hohner contact during a visit to a Chinese factory specialising in the manufacture of quality guitars and other instruments.

"The prospect identified from the opportunistic conversation and was converted quickly and successfully by IBC into substantial business through strategic focus, commitment and effort.

"IBC is a small company which has used our trade support very effectively to develop sales in 15 markets including the US and Europe."

IBC Trading was formed by Mr Wilson in 2006, based on his experience in the music business and international sales.

It designs and makes guitars and other stringed instruments for customers internationally.