Business

Co Down company to rock Paris Fashion Week

Coloured stone from Rockin Colour, which will be on display at Paris Fashion Week
Gareth McKeown

A SAINTFIELD company is set to display its product to the eyes of the world at the prestigious Paris Fashion Week, but not in the way you would imagine.

Some of the world's top models will be walking on, rather than wearing Rockin Colour's product line, with 350 metres of the firm's coloured stone making its debut on the catwalk this week.

The company's Chilli Red line of quarry stone will be installed and fill the runway for Hermes fashion house's festival show, with a total of 24 tonnes of stone covering the catwalk.

The managing director of Rockin Colour, Wayne Stevenson started the business with his brother Jamie four years ago, having previously worked with his dad in the family business – CES Quarry Products.

A former university teacher in South Korea, Wayne returned home in 2014 and discussed plans with his father Ronnie to colour coat the quarry stone to create added value and export potential for the product.

"My father's always had a number of innovative ideas and in June 2014 when I was just back I met with him and he had a list of ideas kept in his desk drawer," Wayne explained.

"One of those was to add value to our quarry stone, our core product that we use for concretes, blocks etc so we decided to explore that idea further and went from there."

From that meeting the company has not looked back and thanks to Invest NI R&D support it displayed at major UK trade show, GLEE in Birmingham in September 2015. This allowed the Co Down firm to break into the British market.

From that show Rockin Colour received large orders from UK retailers The Range and JTF Wholesale, as well as several large garden centres in England. It has also gone on to break into lucrative markets in the Netherlands and France, while Amazon sales have grown year on year at the company, which now operates from a fully automated plant in Ballynahinch. Locally sales are also building, including a growing partnership with JP Corry, where RockinColour is now listed in all of the firm's 17 branches in the north.

So far in 2018 20 lorry loads worth €100,000 have been dispatched to France, Rockin Colour's largest market, while the company is currently exploring opportunities in Sweden and Germany.

"There's a lot of potential for it in the retail side, but also for special projects like Paris Fashion Week, as well as commercial and public spaces. We can do a team's logo in the stones or a business park, or even a hotel lobby. There's a lot of different colours, we've created a lot of different finishes and sizes and we're always trying to continuously innovate to keep things fresh," Mr Stevenson added.

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