Acumen programme can add 250k to sales figures

Colm Gribben of Viltra with InterTradeIreland director Margaret Hearty
Colm Gribben of Viltra with InterTradeIreland director Margaret Hearty

A programme developed by cross border agency InterTradeIreland can boost sales figures by £250,000 a report has highlighted.

Running for 15 years, the Acumen programme is regarded as a huge success by the business community on both sides of the border with companies typically reporting an average increase in sales of £250,000 following support.

Since its inception in 2003, Acumen has helped more than 1,000 companies across the island, generating more than £227 million worth of additional sales.

It provides tangible support for small companies trying to break into a new and often unfamiliar market in the Republic of Ireland. Cross-border trading is an essential part of a company’s growth strategy but lack of knowledge and feet on the ground can hamper progress.

“We know how challenging it can be to find the time and funding to recruit a dedicated professional to win sales in the cross-border market,” said ITI director of business services, Margaret Hearty.

“Eligible companies can get help recruiting a sales person along with funding of up to 50% of the cost of the sales person’s salary in the first year.”

One business that has seized a new cross-border opportunity is Viltra Wastewater Technology in Newry.

A previous participant on the Acumen programme, the company hired a full-time sales representative to grow their business in Ireland. “Having a guy out on the road for us in the South, made a huge difference,” said Colm Gribben.

“He built a database of architects and engineers and started knocking doors and getting our name out there. As a result of this, we got an enquiry about Fanad lighthouse in Donegal and secured a contract to solve the waste water problems for the new visitor centre. Now 25% to 30% of our turnover comes from Ireland and I’m confident this will continue to grow.”