O’Neills has been unveiled as the winner of the 2018 North West Business of the Year.
The announcement was made at a gala NW Business Awards ceremony in the City Hotel, Derry.
O’Neills, which is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Ireland, with plants in Strabane, Tyrone and Dublin, picked up the business honour in what is its 100th year.
The Strabane-based company recently announced plans to open its first Derry store in Waterloo Place in July. Founded in 1918 as a manufacturer of Gaelic footballs, the O’Neills brand soon became synonymous with GAA. Over the decades, the company has expanded its product, offering to become a major supplier of all types of sportswear and equipment.
Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director of O’Neills, said he was delighted and honoured at receiving the award.
He said: “We are delighted and honoured to receive this award. As many of you know, O’Neills is celebrating 100 years in business this year and we are in the process of opening our first Derry store in Waterloo Place.
“To be recognised for achievements in growth and export over the past year is very rewarding and encouraging to us all behind the O’Neills name. Our staff and customers are central to all that we do and achieve.
“Our mantra at O’Neills has always been to never refuse an order and never let a customer down. If we have to work all night to deliver a customer’s order, we will. I am very privileged to have an excellent team of staff which is committed to our customers - that’s what makes O’Neills successful.
“We are hugely excited about opening our first Derry store early this summer and investing in the local economy and the employment of local people. Thank you to those who nominated O’Neills and to the North West Business Awards for this award, we are delighted.”
Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Derry Chamber of Commerce, which organises the awards in partnership with City Centre Initiative, said: “Our congratulations to everyone at O’Neills on winning the NW Business of the Year award. We have been overwhelmed with the standard of entries this year for all our awards and it was refreshing to see a good variety of nominations.
“These awards celebrate the achievements of local companies throughout the North West. We’re very proud to have O’Neills so well established within the region and look forward to the new city centre store opening shortly.
“Our judges were all in agreement that O’Neills has demonstrated a strong commitment and desire to succeed, grow and export over the past year. These are key ingredients for any business to flourish on a global scale.
“Due to uncertainties over the past year with the impact of Brexit, it has been refreshing to see O’Neills strive forward, particularly as a company based on the border. Businesses like O’Neills are inspiring to us all within the local business community and I once again extend our congratulations to all the teams on their achievement.”