Thu 3rd Mar 2016
Raising a glass to exports
Colum Egan (Old Bushmills Distillery); Aaron Ennis (Danske Bank); Ann McGregor (NI Chamber); Minister Jonathan Bell; Liza Hammond (Etihad) and David Gosnell (Old Bushmills Distillery).
“Export is at the heart of our continuing success story” – that’s according to David Gosnell, Chairman of The Old Bushmills Distillery, one of Northern Ireland’s leading and oldest exporters.
Mr Gosnell was speaking at the latest ‘Danske Bank Export First’ event which took place earlier today at the world famous Old Bushmills Distillery.
The event formed part of the Danske Bank Export First programme, a business led support initiative by NI Chamber in partnership with Danske Bank and airlines partner Etihad.
Speaking to an audience of 75 local businesses, the Old Bushmills Distillery Chairman shared the inspirational story of how Old Bushmills Distillery continues to be a global leader in its field of hand crafted, small batch Irish whiskey.
Mr Gosnell said:
“We are very pleased to host with Danske Bank and the NI Chamber of Commerce a visit to the world famous Bushmills Irish Whiskey Distillery where we will discuss 400 years of exporting.
“The Old Bushmills Distillery has its heritage firmly rooted in authenticity and quality, Bushmills Irish Whiskey is produced, aged and bottled at Ireland’s oldest working whiskey distillery, over 400 years old, in the village of Bushmills in County Antrim.
“Over the years Bushmills Irish Whiskey has won many awards not only for its outstanding liquid but also for export and most notable in recent years, winning the Queens Award for Export in 1986 and again in 1991.
“Our most recent export launch was The Steamship Collection which celebrates the 125th Anniversary of the epic maiden voyage of the steamship SS Bushmills which took our whiskey to new corners of the world and indeed we are still exporting to over 40 countries worldwide. Export is at the heart of our continuing success story of Bushmills.”
The event follows research published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), showing that the numbers of positive reports from manufacturers were the lowest in seven years.
The biggest declines were in the West Midlands, North West and East Midlands, the survey of more than 3,000 companies showed. However the biggest increases were in the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the findings, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said:
“Exporters have faced considerable challenges in recent months. Slowing growth in China and the US, along with the continued weakness in the eurozone, have made it harder for firms to build momentum.
“NI Chamber has always championed export as the key to economic growth and whilst the rate of growth has dropped significantly, exports are continuing to grow in Northern Ireland- a testament to our local businesses, particularly in the face of such global uncertainty.
“However, Northern Ireland’s export base is small and heavily dependent on a few large firms. We are, however, hopeful that the forthcoming ‘Export Matters’ Action Plan to be released by DETI during 2016 will provide a route map to increased export activity. The Department is committed to putting this proposal out to consultation in early 2016 and NI Chamber is part of a panel involved in the process to move forward on the ‘Export Matters’ Action Plan.”
Also in attendance was Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell who provided an update on his Department’s work and the economy. Speaking at the event, the Minister said:
“It is particularly relevant that this Export First event is being held at the home of one of our truly globally recognised brands “Bushmills Irish Whiskey”.
“As an Executive, we recognise the importance of supporting our local businesses to explore export markets, helping them to develop international business opportunities in key markets.
“The Executive’s Economic Strategy clearly identifies that the way to economic success comes through a renewed focus on export-led growth.
“As many of you know, my Department has been working with Invest Northern Ireland, IntertradeIreland, local Councils, industry bodies and leading Northern Ireland exporters to develop the Northern Ireland Export Action Plan – Export Matters. This Export Action Plan, which I will issue shortly, will underpin the Northern Ireland Executive’s ambition for an export led economic strategy.
“We have given ourselves ambitious targets but we believe this is essential for building a sustainable economy for Northern Ireland.”
Concluding, Aaron Ennis, Senior Corporate Banking Development Manager at Danske Bank, said:
“It is fitting and inspiring that the first Export First event of the year took place at the home of one of Northern Ireland’s most recognisable brands and most successful export businesses. The Bushmills story serves to illustrate how a home-grown company can thrive over the long term and remain unique even as part of an international group.
“As the economy recovers we are seeing increasing evidence that local businesses are seeking to export to countries they have never sold to before. We also expect to see more NI firms acquiring established companies in new markets to accelerate that organic sales growth.”