British museums, galleries and heritage sites are proving a good match for the strengths of Irish manufacturers of quality goods, reports Allyson Stephen, Enterprise Ireland’s senior market advisor for the UK consumer retail sector.

For many years, Irish companies like Avoca Handweavers, Foxford Woollen Mills, luxury candle company Rathbornes, jewellery company Solvar and Newbridge Silverware supplied British independent retailers. More recently, the companies have proven popular with buyers in the museum and heritage sector.

Despite the economic uncertainty threatened by Brexit, UK tourist numbers are on the rise, seeing a marked increase in footfall and spend at gift shops at UK tourist venues.

“Spending by overseas visitors to the UK rose from £22.5bn in 2016 to £25.7bn – a record high – in 2017,” says Stephen. “The museum and heritage sector market in the UK is a niche for Irish suppliers but it is a niche that is growing faster than companies’ traditional markets. Additionally, retail buyers in the museums and heritage sector are constantly looking for new products and suppliers and Irish manufacturers and suppliers are proving very popular.”

Irish advantages in the museum retail sector

A number of key qualities must be met to successfully meet the stock requirements of retail outlets, run by organisations such as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces, the National Trust, the British Museum, and the Museum of London, says Stephen. “To work with buyers in the museum retail sector, you don’t just turn up and make a sale, as you might in more traditional areas. Suppliers and manufacturers must take time to tell the story of their product. That is what buyers at these venues need to understand.”

“Museum retail buyers need bespoke products. Bespoke might mean, not just for the market or the region, but for individual venues. Irish companies that supply to the sector may only sell 50 or so items at a time, so they are ready for small batch production. What we see is that, because they are so skilled at building relationships with buyers and venues, they win repeat orders again and again.”

As well as working with commercial directors at particular venues, giftware suppliers work with the venue’s product development team and with the curators of one-off exhibitions.

Each year, Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, brings UK, European and American buyers of giftware to the Showcase Ireland event held in the RDS in Dublin in January. Stephen sees buyers’ ‘eyes wide-open delighted’ with the range and quality of the goods on display.

“When buyers go to trade shows in the UK, Germany or France, they see the same products again and again. That’s not what consumers in this sector want,” explains Stephen. “Something that has been mass-produced by a nameless manufacturer on the other side of the world won’t work in this sector. Consumers want something different – something that belongs to a tradition but that is also innovative and has a spark of creativity.”

Irish gifts blend tradition and innovation

One example of a company producing a product with a story is Rathbornes, which was established in Dublin in 1488 and is the world’s oldest candle company.  When Rathbornes attends a trade show, their team very much looks the part, wearing leather aprons while talking about what makes their products so special. In 2013, the company launched its Beyond the Pale range of luxury candles, made from beeswax and essential oils. It also produces a range of luxury hand and body lotions.

The Ashmolean Museum’s Retail Buyer, Katherine Merrony comments, “Wonderful things come out of Ireland. We like the traditional methods Irish manufacturers use and also the ‘up-to-dateness’ of things. We go to Showcase Ireland to source giftware, homeware and ceramics. We understand the potential and skills that are required to produce the throws, for example. The quality is great in Ireland.”

It is that mix of tradition and innovation that is a real winner in the heritage market, says Stephen. “This mix is something that Ireland is brilliant at doing successfully, not just in the UK, the potential is global.”

Ireland’s Heritage Site and Museum Giftware Industry

Heritage of quality

Heritage of quality

in textiles and design

Committed to EU

a member since 1973

3rd Most Resilient

supply chain in the world

1st for Flexibility

and adaptability of people

Ireland has long enjoyed a reputation for high-quality crafts and today its giftware is sought after by visitors to museums and heritage sites worldwide. From luxurious textiles and silverware to artisan candles and bespoke branded items, Irish products hold a special appeal based on unequalled quality.

Central to this appeal is the unique stories of heritage and craftsmanship found in Irish products, and a design aesthetic that is renowned globally. For museum gift shop operators, this means strong demand, revenues and margins. Visitor numbers are on the rise and Irish products’ mix of design, quality and stories is an increasingly strong commercial proposition.

Ireland’s Heritage Site and Museum Giftware Industry

Heritage of quality

Heritage of quality

in textiles and design

Committed to EU

a member since 1973

3rd Most Resilient

supply chain in the world

1st for Flexibility

and adaptability of people

Heritage of quality

Heritage of quality

in textiles and design

Committed to EU

a member since 1973

3rd Most Resilient

supply chain in the world

1st for Flexibility

and adaptability of people

Ireland has long enjoyed a reputation for high-quality crafts and today its giftware is sought after by visitors to museums and heritage sites worldwide. From luxurious textiles and silverware to artisan candles and bespoke branded items, Irish products hold a special appeal based on unequalled quality.

Central to this appeal is the unique stories of heritage and craftsmanship found in Irish products, and a design aesthetic that is renowned globally. For museum gift shop operators, this means strong demand, revenues and margins. Visitor numbers are on the rise and Irish products’ mix of design, quality and stories is an increasingly strong commercial proposition.

Enterprise Ireland connects international businesses with Irish companies.
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Why partner with Irish businesses?

Europe’s fastest growing economy

Irish businesses are globalised, forward-looking and ambitious – their partners benefit from this dynamic approach.

One of the world’s most innovative ecosystems

Irish small and medium businesses are the most innovative in Europe and are supported by a world-class R&D ecosystem.

A global technology centre

Irish companies grow up alongside the biggest names in tech, life sciences and financial services and meet the standards of global leaders.

A culture of entrepreneurship

Irish people are renowned for developing business opportunities worldwide and their ambition means a sharp focus on success.

Europe’s fastest growing economy

Irish businesses are globalised, forward-looking and ambitious – their partners benefit from this dynamic approach.

One of the world’s most innovative ecosystems

Irish small and medium businesses are the most innovative in Europe and are supported by a world-class R&D ecosystem.

A global technology centre

Irish companies grow up alongside the biggest names in tech, life sciences and financial services and meet the standards of global leaders.

A culture of entrepreneurship

Irish people are renowned for developing business opportunities worldwide and their ambition means a sharp focus on success.

Learn more about Irish heritage sites and museum giftware industry

Artists at Irish Table Top

Working in conjunction with prolific Irish artist impressionist Deborah Donnelly, we have developed a range of brand led exclusive Ceramics, Glassware, Woodware and linens.

GiftsDirect.com

GiftsDirect.com aims to bring joy to our customer’s lives by providing them and the people with whom they share our gifts with, a convenient, high quality online gifts service. We make it easier for our customers to deliver gifts to their clients, family and friends around the world. TheIrishStore.com allows people with a connection with or a love for Ireland to ‘Shop in Ireland as if they were there’! The Irish Store brings all the best Irish brands and artisan craft suppliers into one online store and links those suppliers with the Irish diaspora and Irish ‘fans’ across the globe. The Irish Store is genuinely Irish and provides customers with an unrivalled range of authentic, high quality Irish products.

Irelands Eye Knitwear

We design, manufacture and wholesale high quality natural Irish Heritage knitwear. Only high quality natural yarns are used including wool/cashmere blends and 100% Donegal merino wool. We draw upon our Aran knitwear heritage to produce knitwear that is relevant and contemporary, without losing its Irish identity. Modern, fashionable and stylish, but retaining a clear Irish identity.

The Wild Goose Studio

Since its foundation in 1969, Wild Goose Studio has sought its inspiration in Ireland’s history, poetry and mythology. From the beginning, a group of skilled craft-workers in Kinsale, Co. Cork has maintained a tradition of high quality as the range of artworks has grown. The early experimental spirit of Brian Scott-McCarthy and Kathleen Smyth remains to this day as Wild Goose Studio continues to work with leading Irish and international designers to broaden its horizons and expand its offering of award-winning gifts.

Tipperary Crystal

Allied, founded in 1973 and primarily involved in the manufacture & wholesale of giftware/souvenir products and is owned by five shareholders (four directors) and have a wholly owned company in Scotland selling our products. We also own the Brand Name – Tipperary Crystal and produce a large collection of giftware under this brand and are the lead sponsors of the Rose of Tralee. Our products range are driven by a team of graphic artists, a cartoonist, photographer and a product development director directly employed by Allied. We have also worked with the following brands: Guinness, Garfield, Riverdance, Special Olympics & Trinity College, Murphy’s Irish stout and Bewley’s.

How we can help

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As one of the world’s largest seed capital investors, we help develop a pipeline of cutting edge Irish companies.

Connect to Businesses

Our industry experts understand your requirements, and match them you with a shortlist of Irish partners that can deliver on them.

Get Direct Introductions

We make direct introductions to the right people in Irish companies, enhancing and simplifying your experience.

Museum and Heritage Industry Insights

Heritage
March 12, 2018

Irish suppliers a gift for UK museum retail buyers

British museums, galleries and heritage sites are proving a good match for the strengths of Irish manufacturers of quality goods, reports Allyson Stephen, Enterprise Ireland's senior market advisor for the…
Ireland in the news Bloomberg sees Ireland’s innovation ranking rise again
January 30, 2018

Bloomberg sees Ireland’s innovation ranking rise again

Ireland has moved up three places in the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2018, a list of the world’s most innovative countries. Ireland ranked in 13th place overall, with more than 200…
News about Ireland Ireland #1 for skills and innovation in EU Commission 2017 Fact Sheet
November 29, 2017

Ireland #1 for skills and innovation in EU Commission 2017 Fact Sheet

Ireland was named first for skills and innovation in the European Commission’s 2017 Small Business Act Fact Sheet. The latest ranking builds on Ireland’s international reputation for innovation. The European…

Tell us what you need and we'll find your ideal Irish business partner.

Ireland has moved up three places in the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2018, a list of the world’s most innovative countries.

Ireland ranked in 13th place overall, with more than 200 economies considered in the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2018 ranking process. Ireland ranked in first place in subcategories including value-added manufacturing and productivity.

The Bloomberg Innovation Index 2018 also showed a strong performance for European countries, with France and Germany featuring in the top ten. The UK remained in 17th place. South Korea and Sweden retained their top two rankings, with Singapore in third position. The US fell out of the top 10 for the first time in the six years the Index has been published.

Economies were scored on a 0-100 scale based on seven equally weighted categories, including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

Experts like Robert D Atkinson, President of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in Washington DC, attributed the success of rising countries like Ireland to “smart, well-funded innovation policies like better R&D tax incentives, more government funding for research, more funding for technology commercialization initiatives.”

Gearóid Mooney, Divisional Manager for Research and Innovation at Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, commented, “It is great to see Ireland inching up the ranking. This year’s performance is consistent with Enterprise Ireland’s own data on how much Irish companies spend on innovation, which has continued to increase since the recession. We are focused on opportunities to drive market-led innovation in support of Irish companies. Research consistently shows that companies that focus on innovation grow more quickly than those that don’t.”

The ranking reflects Ireland’s growing reputation for innovation, a key source of competitive advantage for companies established in the country. In November 2017, Ireland was named first for skills and innovation in the EU Commission’s 2017 Fact Sheet. International customers and partners of Irish companies leverage innovation to increase efficiency and productivity and enhance their product portfolios.

Enterprise Ireland’s 14 Technology Centres, 15 Technology Gateways and 12 Science Foundation Research Centres focus on cutting-edge areas including big data, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital content, nanotechnology, sustainable food, smart technologies and marine renewable energy. In each of these centres, scientists and engineers work in partnership across academia and industry to address crucial research questions.

Building on two decades of investment in science and technology, the Irish Government continues to put innovation first with the implementation of its Innovation 2020 strategy.

Ireland was named first for skills and innovation in the European Commission’s 2017 Small Business Act Fact Sheet.

The latest ranking builds on Ireland’s international reputation for innovation. The European Commission’s Innovation Scorecard 2017 also ranked Irish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) top for innovation.

The European Commission publishes Small Business Act (SBA) Fact Sheets annually, with the objective of improving understanding of trends and policies affecting SMEs across the European Union. The SBA focuses on key performance indicators and policy measures organised around 10 principles, including entrepreneurship, internationalisation, state aid and public procurement.

Ireland’s SBA profile remains highly competitive, with the European Commission’s Fact Sheet 2017 presenting a number of improvements on last year’s performance.

Ireland is one of the top four EU performers in entrepreneurship and has the highest score in two separate entrepreneurship indicators. On the high status given to successful entrepreneurship, Ireland records the highest percentage in the EU (83.1 %) compared to the average (66.6 %). Ireland’s pro-business environment is also evident in the Fact Sheet’s finding that it has the least burdensome government regulations in Europe

In eight of the SBA areas — entrepreneurship, ‘second chance’, ‘responsive administration’, state aid and public procurement, access to finance, single market, skills and innovation and internationalisation — Ireland performs above or well above the European average.

Earlier this year, Eurostat research found that Ireland has the highest proportion of high-growth enterprises in the EU, ahead of the UK, Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria.

Customers and partners of Irish companies worldwide leverage this innovation to increase efficiency and productivity in ways that enhance their product portfolios.

The Irish government continues to put innovation at the top of its agenda with the implementation of its Innovation 2020 strategy.

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