Share Of £5m Loan Fund Helps Belfast-based Firm Plan International Expansion

22nd July, 2013

Teamwear Ireland Ltd has expanded its reach with a second site in Dublin. The business will develop its own unique basketball sportswear brand and intends to recruit four people, with more to follow.

The Belfast-based firm which manages the design and running of online, bespoke school and club eShops – enabling clubs to sell branded sports clothing and equipment – has received £50,000 from the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund (the Fund). The firm will invest in new capital equipment and enhance its distribution network throughout Ireland and Europe.  Funding for the £5m fund is provided by Invest Northern Ireland and is managed by UCI, a subsidiary of social finance organisation Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT).

Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCIT, welcomed the announcement:
“UCIT has a proud history of providing lending support to a wide range of community, voluntary and social enterprise clients across Northern Ireland, enabling them to enable themselves. As managers of the NI Small Business Loan Fund we are extremely keen to deliver support to a wide range of businesses across Northern Ireland. Teamwear Ireland has a well-planned and sustainable business model, it is a differentiated business, it has a strong management team and we are pleased to be working with them to help develop new revenue streams, markets and product lines.

“The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund is providing vital support to small businesses across Northern Ireland has already made a significant impact in creating and securing jobs and helping to support economic improvement in our community.”

The support of the Fund will enable Teamwear Ireland to move toward production of its own bespoke basketball clothing brand, ‘Wingfoot’. The value of the teamwear industry is estimated to be £250million in the UK and Ireland and basketball is the third-most popular junior sport in Ireland.

John Anderson, one of the founders of Teamwear Ireland, said:
“When we set up our company, our aim was to let coaches get on with being coaches, rather than kitmen. We’ve had fantastic success with that and this new support is going to enable us to enhance our business even further at home and abroad.

“We’re using the money to invest in new capital equipment for our salesmen and take on new staff – it’s also underpinning our innovative approach, which is to facilitate the back-end IT systems for schools and clubs that want to brand and run their own club shops. That’s a service that isn’t offered by any other sportswear retailer in Ireland.

“Through our sustainable plan for export-led growth, we expect to see our turnover rise to £675,000 this year and £1.2m the next. With the help of the Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund, supported by Invest NI and UCIT we’re now able to take on distributors and negotiate with suppliers about breaking in to new European markets. We have found the NISBLF to be responsive and flexible at an important time in the development of our business”

Mr Anderson concluded:
“We’re confident that through a focus on innovation and adding value to our products by creating our own brand, we can continue our strong track-record of growth.”

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund is available to 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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