Wexford company Hartecast Street Furniture is eyeing expansion in the British market in the new year even in the face of Brexit.
Established in the village of Clonroche 30 years ago, Hartecast already has a sizeable footprint in the Irish market. Its clients include Dublin City Council, the University of Limerick, Irish Rail and Transdev, the operator of the Luas light rail system in Dublin.
Now, with Brexit negotiations still ongoing, Harry Harte, managing director of the business, is nevertheless planning to go ahead with plans to grow the company’s presence in Britain.
“We’ve developed a very good market for our products already in the UK,” he said.
“I went over there about ten years ago with a mobile unit and visited cities like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London, demonstrating our products.”
Hartecast’s existing clients in Britain include the O2 venue in London, Liverpool University, Wolverhampton City Centre Metro, Burnley Public Realm and the East and West Croydon Interchange in London.
“We’re as prepared as we can be at this stage for Brexit, whatever the outcome, and the plan for us now is to increase sales in Britain in the months ahead,” Harte said.
Hartecast is a client company of Enterprise Ireland and has made use of the supports offered by the state agency to help Irish companies trading with Britain to prepare for its exit from the EU.
“We’ve followed the Enterprise Ireland guidelines on how to prepare for Brexit,” Harte said. “We have our EORI number in place, we’ve checked the tariffs that would apply to our business and we’ve also spoken to our hauliers and freight forwarders.”
Hartecast was originally established in the late 1970s by Harry Harte’s brothers Tony and Willie as a part-time venture following the closure of Pierce’s Foundry in Wexford. They decided to open their own foundry and started out making metal benches for private gardens.
Harry Harte took over the business in 1990, aged 30. It has since grown to employ 16 people. Hartecast has a portfolio of 83 different products, including litter bins, bollards, retention sockets, planters and cycle stands.
“I remember working at my brothers’ foundry during the holidays when I was at college and being really impressed by what they were doing,” Harte said. “I suppose it was basically what we now call recycling, in that they were taking scrap metal, melting it down and moulding it into something new.
“The vast majority of our products are recyclable to this day, but they are also long-lasting and durable. That’s really helped us to build up our business in the UK. The councils over there don’t tend to be too price-sensitive. Their focus is very much on lifetime value. Our products have a lifespan of at least 50 years.”
In Ireland, Hartecast’s metal seating and benches, planters, iron castings and bicycle stands can be found in multiple locations in the North and south.
They include the People’s Park in Dún Laoghaire and the Grangegorman Campus in Dublin, Connswater Greenway in Belfast and the Northwest Transport Hub in Derry.
The company recently installed 25 yellow Hubbub recycling bins for Dublin City Council in high-profile locations including Grafton Street, South King Street and Henry Street.