Show provides shop window for businesses

LIZ BARR’S fashionable knitwear business has grown 100% in the last three years.

Over the last 12 months alone the Dublin-based fashion house saw its sales to up market boutiques grow by 50%, with international sales accounting for about 20% of turnover.

Liz is confident 2003 will be another good year, even though sales are not expected to increase as dramatically as they did in recent years.

She is also delighted daughters Jenni and Mimi have become partners over the last three years.

Jenni, who comes from a computing and business background, has played a leading role in building on the company’s brand.

Liz has had a stand at Showcase Ireland for 13 years. “It is our largest selling trade show of all the shows we do in a year,” she said.

Jenni reckons the show will net around €100,000 for them with more orders repeated over the year.

Retail prices for some of their outfits range between €160 and €500.

“We have to be up to the minute all the time. Everybody wants a new collection and new colours every season. You can’t just rehash what went before,” said Jenni.

Based at the Shandon Crafts Centre, Cork-based weaver Mary Barry, whose knitwear won the Best New Fashion Product award has been showing off her designs at Showcase for about 16 years. Almost half of her collection of jackets, tunics scarves and throws are bound for the export market. America accounts for about a quarter of her export sales.

“This year is going to be a good one,” she said confidentially. “We have had a bit of a dip but things are definitely looking up.”

Two Germans who met by chance in Ireland eight years ago were declared overall winners of the Showcase Ireland New Product award.

Sabine Lenz and Len Lipitch, who established Enibas, a range of uniquely crafted silver and gold jewellery, won the award for their Life’s Little Animal jewellery range.

The silver animal pendants, brooches and ear studs are appended to a miniature carrier bag on which a little poem is written.

Len and Sabine met when Sabine was hitchhiking in West Cork. Len had already made Ireland his home. The couple, who are now married and have three young children, have a workshop in Schull in Co Cork.

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