O’Neills bound for Boston & Philadelphia to explore US market on trade mission

Orla Ward, Business Development Manager at O'Neills.Orla Ward, Business Development Manager at O'Neills.
Orla Ward, Business Development Manager at O'Neills.
Locally based firm O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd are bound for Boston and Philadelphia to examine how they can gain a stronger foothold in the US sportswear market.

The Strabane-based sportswear specialists are one of seven companies from both sides of the border taking part in the week-long trip to America’s East Coast as part of a joint trade delegation led by Donegal and Derry & Strabane Councils..

The other companies are Humanity Cosmetics, Learning Pool, Brand It Technologies, EKO Chute, MMG Welding and Wild Fuschia Bakery.

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Founded in 1918, O’Neills specialise in the design, manufacture, personalisation and supply of performance multi-sportswear including playing kit, training and leisurewear. The company has built its reputation on supplying high-quality Gaelic games kit and has become the choice of champions, supplying high profile clubs and grassroots teams in rugby, netball, soccer, hockey and Australian rules, across the globe.

Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O'Neills.Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O'Neills.
Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O'Neills.

O’Neills employ 750 people at their production facility in Strabane, Co. Tyrone and a further 200 people in Walkinstown, Co. Dublin. The company was part of a trade delegation which travelled to Boston in 2016/2017 when they appointed a sales representative to tap into the US market.

O’Neills, who also have a manufacturing operation and large outlet in Derry, already supply a number of GAA clubs in the US and are particularly interested in exploring the US College sportswear market. They are also keen to build on their rugby customer base, particularly in the Philadelphia area.

Orla Ward, Business Development Manager at O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd said: “On previous trips to the US we got a better understanding of the market in Boston and developed our very positive relationship with Council.

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“We are excited at the opportunity to make new connections in Philadelphia and Boston and the prospect of exploring niche markets and opportunities suited to our business. We can offer clubs, schools, colleges and universities in the US market bespoke playing kit, training kit and leisurewear.”

She added: “Our team is constantly innovating, responding to customer demand and improving. We are committed to sport, community and empowering athletes at all levels to become champions and reach the top of their game.”

O’Neills’ in-house design team works with clubs to ensure their apparel meets club and governing body requirements. Garments are created using the most advanced and durable player-tested fabrics and ranges are fully customised to offer the inclusion of club crest, sponsor logos, and club and player names.

The latest print and embroidery methods, including woven and silicone crests, are available to customers. Technical fabrics are knit in the state-of-the-art knitting facility in Strabane and dyed and finished in the dye house in Walkinstown.

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O’Neills’ 16-acre site at the Dublin Road Industrial Estate in Strabane includes a new 50,000 sq. ft. distribution facility which was opened last year to serve the company’s growing local and global customer base.

The Trade and Investment Mission will be led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council. It will include third level and further education providers together with development organisations including Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, North West Regional College, Donegal ETB and Catalyst.

The trip takes place from November 11 to 15 and is funded by The Executive Office and the Irish Government. For more information visit www.irelandNW.com and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19.