Jersey firm scores big home win with emigrant sales
Published 15/11/2011 | 05:00
FROM Monaghan to Mongolia . . . the mass emigration of young men and women has sparked a huge demand for GAA jerseys abroad.
Boosted by the growing numbers emigrating to Australia and elsewhere sales of jerseys for new clubs set up abroad have increased by 200pc in the past two years.
And they are ordering from as far away as Dubai, Qatar and China -- and one of the latest clubs to place an order was the Mongol Khans.
Chaired by Michael Ruane of Galway, the new GAA team is based in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar and is made up of Irish people and local Mongolians.
Director with sportswear giant O'Neills, Paul Towell said yesterday the firm is "chasing the emigrant dollar" by aiming to increase revenues in overseas markets.
The company employs 500 people here. Mr Towell said they are selling direct to GAA clubs in far-flung destinations, including Singapore. Orders are placed by emigrants who set up clubs and who want a kit in their new colours.
"The 200pc increase in sales in Australia in two years is from a small base, but it's a significant increase," he said
While there were just a handful of GAA clubs in Australia five years ago, that has now risen to 90 -- that is the same number as county Meath.
Clubs order entire kits, including socks, jerseys and hoodies and these are made in Ireland and shipped abroad. The company has manufacturing plants in Dublin and Strabane, Co Tyrone.
But the home market remains "quite depressed", Mr Towell said.
"The sales of replica tops last year fell by 25pc. People haven't got the money.''
The anticipated uplift from Dublin's All-Ireland run and success did not materialise.
"We were slightly disappointed with the sales of the Dublin shirts. It was the second year of the shirt, so there was no great lift."
Mr Towell was commenting on results which showed that pre-tax profits at its main company, Balbriggan Textiles Ltd last year fell 16pc to €341,756. The company's profits dropped after the firm's gross profit decreased from €8.8m to €8.6m. The company had accumulated profits of €13.5m.