BY JACKIE KEOGH
CH Marine has taken over the interests of Bantry Bay Canoes, one of Ireland’s best known canoe and kayak suppliers.
The manager of Bantry Bay Canoes, Ciaran O’Connor, told The Southern Star: ‘Our customers literally come from Mizen to Malin: they drive a whole day to spend two hours with us.’
He explained that the company – which stocks more than 1,500 canoes and kayaks – has gone through many changes over the years. Initially, it was set up in 2007 by the UK canoe and kayak chain, Canoe Shops Group, as an online store operating out of Castletownbere.
The following year, it moved to the Lahardane Industrial Estate outside Bantry before finally relocating, in 2012, to a larger premises at the By-Pass Business Park in Bandon.
Nicholas Bendon, the CEO of CH Marine confirmed: ‘We are delighted to have acquired Bantry Bay Canoes, a company that holds significant experience and expertise in the kayak world.
‘We are happy to have retained the services of Ciaran as general manager, and look forward to supporting him as he continues to progress the company with great ranges and exciting new products.’
Mr Bendon said the company will continue to trade as a separate entity but join the CH Marine Group of companies, and that it would also have access to the company’s retail outlets in Skibbereen, Cork city and Belfast.
Mr Bendon said: ‘It would be our ambition to grow the company on a national basis and expand its role as a specialist service.’
Ciaran explained that part of the nationwide appeal of Bantry Bay Canoes is that it is not tied to any particular brand. ‘We cover all brands, which means that people are prepared to travel to our store.’
He said the company also offers one of the most comprehensive ranges of kayaks and equipment, covering all disciplines including a vast range of leisure sit-ons, touring, sea kayaking, fishing, whitewater, fun boats and rescue kayaks.
‘The interest and popularity of canoeing has increased similar to cycling and road running since the recession hit,’ said Ciaran.
‘People are more aware of how they are spending their time and their money and are more interested in improving their quality of life. And the fact that we are living in one of the best parts of the world is just an added bonus.’