May 17, 2022

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West Belfast start-ups invest to grow in Republic of Ireland

Two west Belfast start-ups have announced investments aimed at growing business in the Republic of Ireland.

itchen Design House and Necto Search & Selection will invest over £800,000 and create 10 jobs between them, with some support from economic development agency Invest NI.

Both companies are based at the Innovation Factory at Forthriver Business Park.

Invest NI has offered £71,800 of support towards the jobs and marketing, part funded by the Department for the Economy Economic Recovery Action Plan.

Kitchen Design House specialises in kitchen design, manufacture, and installation. It’s ready and eager to move into the southern market, said owner Karen Connolly.

“We’ve quickly built a strong customer base in Northern Ireland and we’re now in a position to extend our reach into RoI, particularly in the housing development and home improvement markets.

“Alongside investing in new machinery to streamline efficiencies, Invest NI is helping us build our brand in new markets and create seven designer, fitter and factory roles.

“All of this will give us the confidence to make the most of the opportunities right now in RoI and look towards more opportunities further afield.”

Susan O’Kane, Invest NI’s eastern regional manager, said the two companies were both established in 2020.

“Our eastern regional team has been working closely with each business ever since. We’ve provided tailored advice and financial support towards marketing activities and job creation to help them increase capacity and grow exports,” said Ms O’Kane.

“Investments from local businesses are key to our economic growth, and are a clear focal point of The Department for the Economy’s 10X Economic Vision. I look forward to seeing how these businesses flourish.”

Invest NI believes the investment will add £290,000 in additional annual salaries to the local economy.

Necto Search & Selection, a recruitment consultancy firm, said it has experienced growing interest from the Republic.

Founder Paddy McDade said: “We’ve experienced an increase in demand in the RoI market for our professional recruitment services across the building, civil engineering and internal fit-out sectors.

“To help us focus on this demand, Invest NI is supporting us to create three recruitment consultant roles and has offered marketing support to boost our brand visibility in RoI, and help us realise our future plans to explore GB and European markets.”

Invest NI interim chief executive Mel Chittock last week said the organisation’s strategy is to balance investment in companies with attracting overseas players. 

It has now received an indicative budget allocation enabling it to offer support to companies after it had to pause support due to financial pressures under the draft budget.

Mr Chittock said last week: “What we’re looking at is how do we address different parts of the market. We have a key driver which is about exports, and that’s helping local companies grow their exports and trade successfully overseas. 

“We’re not going to be exclusive in terms of FDI and the local market. It is going to be how do we work with all companies to try to move our economy forward.

“But there will be a difference, we will not support some of the projects going forward that perhaps we traditionally may have done in the past.”

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