Donegal Seafood Companies to Drive Sales with Assistance from Intensive Business Course

DonegalBusinessProgramme_guys12 Donegal Seafood Businesses Aim to Create 26 New Jobs and €10 Million in Additional Sales by 2014.

Pictured R-L: John McKinney, John and Shaun McKinney; Donal Buckley, BIM Business Development & Innovation Manager; Shane McGee, Errigal Seafoods; Michael Tunney, CEO, Donegal County Enterprise Board and Michael O’Donnell, Island Seafoods.

DonegalBusinessProgramme_girls12 Donegal Seafood Businesses Aim to Create 26 New Jobs and €10 Million in Additional Sales by 2014.

Pictured R-L: Kirste Gallagher, Ocean Farm and Louise McGinley, Errigal Seafoods.

A group of twelve ambitious seafood entrepreneurs from County Donegal have become the first in the North West region to benefit from a new intensive business development programme.  The official graduation ceremony took place today (Tuesday 25th October 2011) in the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey.

The ‘Donegal Seafood Development Programme’ was introduced in the North West region after a similar, highly-successful syllabus was made available to participants in coastal communities in West Cork and Wexford.

Aimed at both start-up and existing seafood enterprises, the course was co-ordinated by BIM, the Seafood Development Agency, in conjunction with Donegal County Enterprise Board. Training and mentoring support was delivered by James Burke and Associates. The course is target driven and tailored to each of the company’s specific needs, providing the companies with the necessary tools to achieve their business objectives.

Participants were mentored in core areas of business development including strategic planning, market trends and distribution and route to market. The entrepreneurs were also given a talk from one of Ireland’s most well known business men and entrepreneurs, Bobby Kerr (CEO of Insomnia and one of the dragons on RTE’s Dragon’s Den).

In order to get to grips with what is required to run a successful seafood business, the participants were given a tour of seafood businesses in Howth, Co. Dublin. The group were given an insight into merchant seafood retailing from some of the famous seafood retailers in Howth including Nicki’s Plaice. To learn more about distribution in the retail market, the group visited Oceanpath, one of Ireland’s most successful seafood processors and met with Lenny Fearon, Executive Chef from the Convention Centre Dublin, to understand the quality demands for seafood at larger functions.

Donal Buckley, Business Development and Innovation Manager BIM, believes that the new programme has ensured that local seafood companies are fully-prepared for the opportunities and challenges of a contemporary marketplace: “We’re confident that the ‘Donegal Seafood Development Programme’ will mean a boost for local seafood companies that are determined to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and strategically develop their businesses. Donegal is renowned for its quality seafood and the fishing industry is vital to the local economy. The demands of the marketplace mean that businesses in the region have to re-think and re-position themselves to ensure the products they are offering are innovative and ‘value-added’. After nearly ten months’ intensive training, it is exciting to see that some of the companies have  used what they have learnt on the course to develop a number of new products which, if brought to market, will generate sales and jobs for the Donegal area”

Michael Tunney, CEO of Donegal County Enterprise Board is very happy to have teamed up with BIM to deliver this programme: “We have received very positive feedback from our clients on how the programme has already enabled them to further grow their businesses by developing innovative seafood products, adding value to existing seafood products or developing new domestic and export markets. We anticipate further positive outcomes for these businesses in the coming months”

As a next step, BIM are in consultation with Letterkenny IT are set to develop a ‘Seafood Innovation Hub’ in the North West which will offer companies product development facilities and access to trained graduates to assist in growing their business capabilities.