THE COMPANY BEHIND a biennial conference for foot doctors said it decided to move the convention from London to its home county of Sligo after the weak sterling hurt its UK trade.
Around 200 podiatrists from Britain are expected to attend the summit organised by Irish firm Firefly when it comes to the north-west this September.
Firefly is a Sligo-based company that makes support devices, or ‘orthoses’, for people with foot and ankle problems. The vast majority of its sales come from the UK market.
Founder Martin McGeough has worked in the clinical biomechanics sector for almost three decades. He has provided podiatry services to a number of English Premier League football clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs and Aston Villa.
He said that the weak euro-sterling exchange rate has hurt Firefly’s business in Britain.
“When sterling started devaluating on the back of the Brexit announcement, our margins were way down,” McGeough said. “We have managed to survive – but only just about.”
The firm decided to move the biennial summit to the much cheaper Sligo. This will be the fourth such conference but the first outside the UK.
The event will be held in multiple sites around the county, with 200 delegates and 21 speakers expected to be in attendance.
‘Surf Summit’ success
McGeough added that the company was inspired by the success of Web Summit’s ‘Surf Summit’, where CEOs, startup founders and investors participate in outdoor activities after the tech conference.
The informal gathering took place in Sligo after the 2015 Web Summit in Dublin.
As a result, activities such as surfing, hiking and stand-up paddleboarding have been built into the Firefly Summit programme, which will likely be a boon for the local tourism industry since the convention takes place during the usual off-peak lull.
“The people who are attending the conference will be mainly high-worth individuals from the UK, and London in particular,” McGeough said. “They are not just here for the conference with many having booked holidays around it.”
He suggested that by bringing the conference to Ireland, Firefly will have the opportunity to showcase its home county to its main clients.
Headquartered in Sligo and founded in 2003, Firefly designs, manufactures and distributes foot orthoses for the podiatric industry. The bulk of its devices are sold in the UK.
The company also operates foot and ankle clinics in Sligo, Belfast, Newry, Galway, Cork, Donegal and Dublin.