A Ballycarry company is riding tall in the saddle after establishing an important foothold in the lucrative Japanese equestrian market.
Old Mill Saddlery received Invest Northern Ireland assistance to develop a new e-commerce website that led to an order for its exercise saddles from one of Japan’s leading race horse trainers.
Mr Patton said: “The new website has made a huge difference to our business especially in terms of our sales outside Northern Ireland. It has helped us grow exports to 20 countries including Japan, Russia and Indonesia.
“The Japanese business came through the website and is immensely important because of the high interest there in horse racing.
“Our exercise saddles are based on our own design and are manufactured here using locally sourced components. The business will, therefore, benefit other local companies.
“Our aim will be to build on this initial business to expand sales to other trainers in what is a very dynamic industry in Japan.”
Formed by Mr Patton as a sole trader in 1985 to repair and manufacture quality equestrian equipment, Old Mill Saddlery now employs 20 people at its 15,000 square foot purpose-built Larne Road base.
Mr Patton added: “The new computer system represented a very substantial investment for us and wouldn’t have been undertaken without Invest NI advice and assistance.
“It is a major factor in the growth that we’ve been experiencing over the past few years including an increase in business last year of 25 per cent.
“We are continuing to invest in technology and with support from Invest NI are implementing solutions to integrate all our systems to allow for even further expansion.”
The breakthrough was welcomed by Invest NI which assists clients to improve competitiveness, increase innovation, and promote a stronger international focus. Its services are delivered through local offices and an international office network.
Olive Hill, Invest NI’s director of Innovation and Technology Solutions, said: “Old Mill Saddlery’s growing success in international markets such as Japan is an excellent example of how our technical team can assist companies, both large and small and across all sectors, to strengthen their competitiveness by harnessing the latest internet technology much more effectively.
“Our technical team provided advice and practical support that resulted in the development of a new e-commerce-focused site which made it easier for customers to purchase products and provided essential data for the company about sales and purchases.”
Old Mill Saddlery’s product range includes saddlery and horse clothing, riding wear, country and equestrian clothing, stable equipment, racing equipment, supplements, horse care, giftware and pet products from many world renowned and prestigious suppliers.