The Sunday Business Post
An Irish horticulture company, which specialises in the production of rare ornamental trees, has exported its produce to mainland Europe for the first time in the past two weeks.
"Our strategy is to continue to grow the business and we aim to have 50 per cent of our operation dedicated to exporting over the next three years," said Peadar Collins, founder of the Irish Tree Centre.
"Exporting such large trees and keeping roots intact is a challenge, but our business is as strong as any of its kind in Europe."
The Irish Tree Centre grows more than 200 varieties of ornamental trees on a 50-acre site in Kildorrery in North Cork. The trees are exported to the continent where they are replanted in public parks and city centres.
The company began trading in 1995 and found its niche decorating private and public estates, hotels and golf courses throughout Ireland. In recent times, production exceeded indigenous demand and exporting was the only option.
The company was confident that there was sufficient demand for unique specimen trees across Europe, having received positive feedback from the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the emerging markets of eastern Europe.
"Irish business people need to take the initial steps towards exporting their produce," said Collins.
"We can offer great value and, once that is in place, it is a matter of developing the business to meet new customer demands."
Collins employs three people and expects to increase this in the coming months. As a niche market, the amenity horticultural nursery industry was severely affected by the recession and Collins said that exportation was necessary to remain competitive.
"We will achieve a higher sales volume in Europe," he said. ‘‘We won’t have all our eggs in one basket and will increase production steadily every year."
Collins is an expert in Irish and European arboretums, having gained industry experience in England and the Netherlands before returning to Cork. He said that the economic boom of the late 1990s enabled him to grow the Irish Tree Centre and generate finance to plough back into the business.
"We have very good clients in Ireland and love doing business here," he said. "But I think Irish companies concentrated too much on ourselves during the boom, and it is important to keep expanding your business."