Business Articles



Dressed for Success

Bogart, one of Northern Ireland’s longest serving menswear shops, has expanded its Belfast premises by 50% following investment support from First Trust Bank. As well as securing a range of new stockists, the expansion has allowed Bogart to grow its workforce with the appointment of four new staff members.


Now employing 26 people across its stores in Belfast and Newry, the family run business has experienced exceptional growth following a number of significant contract wins. Bogart was appointed official suit partner for the Northern Ireland team by the Irish Football Association along with leading clothing manufacturer Herbie Frogg. Famed for dressing local sports stars, celebrities and broadcast personalities, the shop has also established a strong presence with corporate businesses and wedding parties. 


Stephen Bradley, John and Gary Keenan who own one of Northern Ireland’s longest serving menswear shops, Bogart, are pictured with Nuala Martin from First Trust. 

The stores are managed by owner John Keenan and his three sons Gary, Mark and Neil, alongside Business Director Stephen Bradley. They attribute their ongoing success to a focus on providing customers with a personalised shopping experience and a contemporary take on traditional trends.


Gary explains; “While we operate in a highly competitive marketplace going up against new entrants to the market like major department stores, the business continues to perform well with customers impressed by the level of service, attention to detail and care they receive in-store; we are now dressing three generations of the same families. This latest expansion is in response to ongoing demand for the bespoke service and range of styles we provide. In the last number of years we have strengthened our groomswear and corporate offering generating a lot of interest through Business Evening events and private shopping experiences for the bride and groom.”


Nuala Martin, Business Manager, First Trust Bank added;

“With an economy heavily reliant on consumer expenditure, the Northern Ireland retail sector faces more pressure than most to deliver exceptional performance. Independent and family run businesses like Bogart however are helping revitalise the market. From establishing e-commerce sites to offering niche services, independent retailers are increasingly at the forefront of the modern high street; able to react quickly to changing consumer trends and tastes. Gary and the team at Bogart are prime examples of this. Although online shopping and superstores are still popular, more and more people choose to avail of shops which focus on customer service while offering competitive prices. Bogart’s strong business ethos coupled with their eye for detail and focus on the customer experience is continuing to deliver results and we wish them every success on this latest stage of their expansion.” 



Young farmer takes home the silverware at All-Ireland competition 


Joe Milligan, a young farmer from Castlewellan, has been named runner-up in the AIB / Teagasc All-Ireland ‘Best Farm Business Plan’ competition. Receiving a prize cheque for €1,000, Joe is the first farmer from Northern Ireland to win an award at the final of the prestigious competition.


Joe, who recently graduated with a Foundation Degree in Agriculture from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), was applauded by the judges for an innovative and forward-thinking business plan which focused on increasing farm efficiencies, factored in pricing volatility and how a transition to dairy farming might affect profitability over time.



Kevin Henry from CAFRE (left) and Eoin Donnelly, Specialist Agri-Advisor at First Trust Bank (right) are pictured presenting young farmer Joe Mulligan with a cheque for €1,000. Joe has been named runner-up in the AIB / Teagasc All-Ireland ‘Best Farm Business Plan’ competition and is the first farmer from Northern Ireland to win a top award in the final. 


Eoin Donnelly, a specialist Agri-Advisor at First Trust Bank and a member of the regional judging panel, said;

“To win an award in the AIB / Teagasc All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan competition is a phenomenal achievement. The competition tests students business, agriculture and rural enterprise knowledge as well as their ability to analysis trends and think creatively.  Joe showcased an in-depth understanding of the sector and his enthusiasm and commitment to farming shone though in both his plan and the interview stages of the competition. We are delighted to see such a deserving student take home the silverware to Northern Ireland for the first time and we offer many congratulations to Joe and the other young local farmers who took part in the competition.” 


As well as being named a winner in AIB / Teagasc All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan competition, Joe was recently selected to join the National Sheep Association’s Young Ambassador Programme. With his degree now complete, Joe hopes to farm full-time at home at Castlewellan and continue to grow the business there.