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Ireland - IrelandsEye: Knitwear eyed by Canada

EU trade agreement with Canada helps Irish knitwear firm enter new market

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IrelandsEye designs, manufactures and is a wholesaler of Irish knitwear, for supply to Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia.

Key facts:

  • Founded in: 1988
  • Headquarters: Knitwear House, Baldoyle, Dublin 13
  • Employees: 60
  • Annual turnover: €5m to €10m

IrelandsEye and international trade

The company was founded by the O’Sullivan Family in 1988. Ireland was quite depressed economically in 1988 and the O'Sullivans decided to go into business for themselves as a family. They had amongst them a chef, an accountant, an engineer, two clothing machinists and a music teacher. They took an opportunity that arose to go into knitwear manufacturing.

They design, manufacture and export the IrelandsEye brand to 20 countries, taking the rich heritage of Irish knitwear, and adding modern design and yarns.

Ireland is a relatively high-cost manufacturing location for producing knitwear. One of the challenges is to constantly innovate to remain competitive. The heritage and uniqueness of Irish knitwear provides the opportunity to deliver a product that is long-lasting and set apart from mainstream knitwear to our customers around the world.

There is an appreciation for genuine Irish-made knitwear in many parts of the world. IrelandsEye exports to the USA, Canada and Australia outside of the EU.

How the EU-Canada trade agreement helps

CETA has removed the friction of duties from the company's exports to Canada, making it more competitive there. Its exports to Canada trebled between 2017 and 2021 (despite Covid), and are on course to increase significantly again in 2022.

Any agreement that makes it easier to trade internationally between countries is always welcome. CETA has meant that Canada has become a core export market for IrelandsEye, whereas before it was a peripheral market for the company.

Paul O’Sullivan
Director, IrelandsEye Knitwear