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Global buyers discover the secret power of Irish crafts at Showcase


Robyn Byrne in a blue dress by Roisin Linnane, bracelets by Melissa Curry, rings by The Silver Loom - all of whom feature at Showcase 2023

Robyn Byrne in a blue dress by Roisin Linnane, bracelets by Melissa Curry, rings by The Silver Loom - all of whom feature at Showcase 2023

Robyn Byrne in a blue dress by Roisin Linnane, bracelets by Melissa Curry, rings by The Silver Loom - all of whom feature at Showcase 2023

From handwoven blankets to perfectly crafted pottery, Irish products are renowned around the world for exceptional design and the utmost craftmanship. This week, 382 Irish consumer-product companies will be exhibiting their wares at Showcase 2023 in the RDS.

Showcase – Ireland’s Creative Expo – is one of Ireland’s largest annual trade fairs. It starts today and runs until Tuesday – and is expected to generate more than €20m in sales for participating exhibitors.

More than 3,500 buyers are expected to attend this landmark trade-only event, including 80 international buyers who have been invited by Enterprise Ireland. Representing international retail chains, department stores, online shopping channels and marketplaces, these buyers are coming from the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, France, Poland, the Benelux countries, the Middle East, Japan, and the Nordics.

Boasting significant buying power, they will be hosted by Enterprise Ireland at its International Buyers’ Hub at Showcase, where they will have the opportunity to host meetings with Irish firms and spend time with the 29 Enterprise Ireland-supported companies that are exhibiting at this year’s event.

These include clothing and textile brands such as Dubarry and Mucros Weavers, and jewellery firms including Mullingar Pewter, Shanore and Solvar.

Other Enterprise Ireland-supported companies exhibiting at Showcase this year include a wide selection of gifts and homeware companies such as Nicholas Mosse Pottery and Rathbornes candlemakers, and health and wellbeing brands like Fragrances of Ireland and Green Angel.

Of course, the buyers can also explore all the stands and exhibitors at this year’s Showcase to get a flavour of up-and-coming names supported by event partners the Design and Crafts Council Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Showcase was established in 1976 by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCI) and is delivered with support from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Enterprise Ireland, and the Local Enterprise Offices.

“The craft and design sector is highly important to the Irish economy. It is very encouraging to see businesses in this sector increasingly focused on local sourcing and sustainable practice – aspects that are of growing importance to consumers,” said Mary Jo Hoyne, head of craft & education at DCCI.

“We are hugely proud that Showcase is such a landmark event for buyers from Ireland and all over the world. It is regarded as something of a boutique show where you’ll find products that are a little different – and, in many cases, hear the story from the maker that makes them so unique.

“This event offers Irish makers an international platform to grow their businesses and the chance to come together to celebrate the creativity and the heritage of the Irish craft and design sector globally.”

Despite the challenging global trading landscape, the Irish consumer-products sector is performing strongly. In fact in 2021 this sector saw double-digit growth, both in sales and exports. Importantly, this sector also has a strong regional presence in communities throughout Ireland, meaning it contributes to job creation around the country.

While Irish products are known for quality and craftsmanship, these days they are also earning a reputation for innovation and sustainability – both increasingly important factors for international buyers.

Consumer brands need to be able to demonstrate how sustainable they are – across the whole business, from supply chain and ingredients, to packaging and distribution – and Enterprise Ireland is keenly focused on supporting Irish businesses on their decarbonisation journey.

Showcase is one of the many trade events Enterprise Ireland supports every year. We also host Ireland pavilions at many international trade fairs and conferences, and host numerous inward buyer visits during the year. ​

Enterprise Ireland’s team works closely and collaboratively with Irish consumer-product companies to establish and implement their international strategic growth plans.

Right across their businesses we advise and offer support to ensure they have the right resources and infrastructure in place to grow internationally. We can help in innovation and operations, through to sales and marketing, including finance, people and management. 

In particular, we work with consumer-product companies to develop an understanding how digital sales can create new value and revenue streams for their business.​

If you’re at Showcase, do come and see us. The Enterprise Ireland International Buyers’ Hub is stand E94 in the Industries Hall until January 24 in the RDS.

Karen Conroy is senior development adviser in consumer retail at Enterprise Ireland

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