BELFAST SPORTS COMPANY GOES GLOBAL WITH FUNDING SUPPORT

Pictured is Peter Cooke, Co-Director of Teamwear Ireland with Barry Connolly, Finance Director of UCIT.
Pictured is Peter Cooke, Co-Director of Teamwear Ireland with Barry Connolly, Finance Director of UCIT.

Belfast-based Teamwear Ireland has tripled its market share in the Republic of Ireland and recruited 14 new staff since securing a £50,000 loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund) in 2013.  The company has recently received another £27,000 from the Fund to support future growth.

The Fund is managed by Ulster Community Investment plc (UCI) on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland. UCI is a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

Teamwear Ireland was started in 2010 to supply branded sports clothing and equipment.  Increased production and need for storage has seen the company expand its facilities at Stockmans Way from 2,800 sq ft to 4,500 sq ft.  The business is now exporting its products globally.

John Anderson, Co-Director of Teamwear Ireland said: “The original loan from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund allowed us to invest in two new embroidery machines to produce high-end sportswear.  This was a service we outsourced previously but now we have the technology to provide it in house.  As a result we have been able to offer customers a complete one stop customisation of their product.

“Since then we have taken on a further 10 staff, expanded our existing premises in Belfast and tripled our market share in RoI.  We have sales reps right across Ireland and we have also expanded our distribution channels right around the world.

“We are in the process of implementing a unique new software system that will significantly improve our internal processes and make our workflow faster and more efficient.  This will further improve our service levels to customers and with the further addition of a customer portal, Teamwear Ireland will only strengthen our position as the leader in our market.”

Speaking of UCI’s support Mr Anderson commented: “Our growth over the past three years is underpinned by the support we have received from the Fund.  When we approached them for a second loan they were very happy to help.  They have always supported our vision for the business and see the potential for us to be one of the leading sportswear providers in the world.”

Finance Director of UCIT, Barry Connolly, said: “Teamwear Ireland has experienced tremendous growth since we supported them three years ago.  The business has a very strong management team in place and has become a major player in the sportswear market.

“We are delighted to have been able to provide Teamwear Ireland with a second loan which will help them with future growth.  The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund was set up to help businesses from a wide range of sectors grow and realise their potential.  Teamwear Ireland is one of many success stories for the Fund and we look forward to hearing how the latest loan will drive their ambition forward.”

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business, but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources. Those interested in finding out more about the Fund can visit www.nisblf.com

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