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Ireland bounces back

The downturn has changed the nature of the merchandise sector in Northern Ireland and Eire. Following some tough times, things are looking up.

Since the banking crisis of 2008, Northern Ireland has experienced even more challenging years than the rest of the UK. Businesses in neighbouring Eire have had an even tougher time. During this period, 58 distributor companies have ceased trading in the Ireland region. 

Thankfully, the remaining distributors have experienced a slow sustained growth. According to data from Sourcing City, the region now has the second highest average distributor value at £492,000, up from £469,000. Total market spend in Eire is more than £47 million, with the Northern Ireland market worth £10.7m.

Distributor numbers are rebounding too. In 2012 Eire and Northern Ireland had 97 distributor companies, whereas today the market has 118.

So, what’s business like in 2016? We asked bpma members. 

JWA Promotional Products has been in business for more than 35 years, based in the beautiful north coast of Northern Ireland – golfing country to some. We have an open door policy, come on in, sit down and have a cuppa and some craic – it works for us. Our office is a busy one and we take great care to ensure our customers have a great experience.

We were asked recently to provide items for the Domestic Violence Campaign. We did this by providing lip balms and torches with the telephone number hidden in the barcode. We felt very strongly about this campaign and with the local policing partnership we decided to participate in the course offered and are now part of the Safe Place Initiative. If someone fleeing Domestic Violence sees the logo in the window, they know that we will offer a safe refuge, lock the door to keep them safe, and contact the relevant authorities. It’s about being part of the community, in which, we live and work.

We have noticed that our customers are focusing more on clothing, as part of their corporate image so they really are well dressed these days. In terms of trends, in bespoke calendars, customers want their own layouts and photos. Based in its European head office in Dundalk, Ireland.

Goldstar is one of the fastest growing trade suppliers in Europe. Goldstar was launched in 2012 by global direct-mail giant National Pen due to significant trade demand for their products. 

Goldstar initially launched in France before expanding into UK, Ireland and Germany in 2014. Today Goldstar has a growing presence in Belgium, Switzerland and Austria, with plans to expand the business right across Europe and beyond. According to Colin Loughran, general manager of Goldstar, two rapid growth areas in the writing category are 360o laser engraving and the ever increasing demand for rubberised writing instruments.

“Goldstar leads the market in 360o engraving because we offer our partners unbeatable value and eye-catching price points that make 360° engraving affordable for all. Demand for 360° engraving is growing exponentially because distributors no longer have the headache of squeezing logos into a restrictive window, while the greater branding space allows creativity for brands to get their message across,” Colin added.

“I am also encouraged by the increasing popularity of our rubberised pen range. The tactile, soft-touch nature of these pens is a winning feature, and we believe the new designs we are launching in the coming months are our best yet – watch this space.”

Capital Marketing is a brand marketing solutions company based in Dublin city centre. We established the business in January 2015 after identifying a gap in the market to supply promotional products and marketing material to a wide range of unserviced corporate clients. 

Our products range from off the shelf promotional products, to bespoke items. From concept to delivery we are involved in all aspects of the branding process. We have seen a huge shift from sourcing larger quantity, lower value goods, to premium quality items that reflect the image of our clients. Although we have access to supplying from the Far East we have noticed the demand has risen greatly to sourcing locally in Ireland and Europe, to reduce lead times and obtain better quality. 

syncseries is a premier supplier of branded promotional products. We are currently one of the fastest growing promotional suppliers in UK and offer a growing range of best quality, unique and useable promotional products presented in bespoke branded packaging.

We recently launched our new website with the aim of showcasing our product range in a simple format with high visual emphasis on products and their spec details. The site includes three new categories: an eco-wood range; a sports range, and a specialist range.

Trends we’ve noticed over the past 12 months include clients requesting additional branding and detailing on merchandise to increases the visual quality of the product and its unit price. Examples include de-bossing and embossing on fl ip-fl op under-soles to allow branding imprint on sand, and the increased use of coloured Pantone matched cables and ear-cushions on earbuds. Bad trends include price requests for orders significantly below MOQ and potential orders with very short lead-times.

LUCAS Promotions is one of Ireland’s leading promotional gift suppliers with offices in Ireland and China. Providing direct manufacturing from audited and approved Asian factories, it offers a one-stop, fl exible service which is tailored to individual customer needs. Whether sourcing an existing promotional gift or developing a totally new product or on-pack promotion, it is a trusted supplier with custom design capability and engineering support. It has worked with many international brands, including Jameson, Pepsi, Absolut, Havana Club, Heineken, Cadbury, Miller, AXA, Cushelle, and Eircom.

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