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How one business is bridging the generational gap to reach more people

8 Feb 2021

The family run company started at a kitchen table in 1997, it now employs nine people with customers across the island.

Long before words like “artisan” and “small batch” were common-place on food and drinks packaging, Donegal company Filligans was making handcrafted produce using traditional recipes.

The firm’s commitment to quality has paid off. The business has grown gradually over two decades – it now has its own retail brand and also supplies hotels and delicatessens. Its flavours have evolved too. While many of its recipes have been handed down the generations, it also includes contemporary tastes like mango and chilli.

However, the firm would be the first to admit that it didn’t keep up to date with the online world, until the pandemic forced it to.

Willie Cremen is one of the Directors, he says “We knew we needed to improve our web presence, all we really had was a brochure online. When Covid-19 struck, many outlets that we sell to had to close. People were contacting us, wondering how to get a hold of our products. It really was time for us to get to grips with the digital world, in particular the e-commerce side of things.”

Alison Currie, InterTradeIreland’s Operations Manager says, “Often a business knows what it wants to achieve online, it just doesn’t know how to go about it. E-Merge can really help because there is a structure and financial support in place to bring in the correct skills and knowledge. SMEs don’t have to go out and recruit someone themselves.”

Willie agrees, “We were very clear about what we wanted, but the advice and access to a digital specialist has been critical to setting up our online presence for success.” He also marvels at the very direct access that it has given them to their customers “Previously we would have received feedback at events, or from suppliers, but online it is at a much bigger scale. The customer insight we’re getting is priceless.“

“We’re also reaching people that we never would have previously. For example in Enniskillen and Kildare where we don’t have outlets – we now have customers. A big change too is the amount of younger people who are buying from us. Revamping our online offering with help from InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme has been a stepping stone to the next generation”

Alison concludes, “The experience of Filligans is something that we’re seeing across the board. A lot of SMEs that have accessed the financial support of £2500/€2800 via the E-Merge programme say it has really helped open up their business to new clients, right across the island.”

To find out more and apply, visit E-Merge | InterTradeIreland.

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