Limerick engineering company expands to South Africa

Kirby Group executive chairman Jimmy Kirby with Tánaiste Micheál Martin at the firm's new office in Cape Town.

A LIMERICK engineering company has opened its first office outside of Europe, expanding to South Africa.

Kirby Group, founded by brothers Tom and Michael Kirby in Thomondgate in 1964, recently opened an office in Cape Town, South Africa, their first office outside of Europe.

The company, who specialise in mechanical and electrical engineering, employ over 1,400 staff in nine European countries and recorded a turnover of over €450million in 2022.

It is expected that the Cape Town office will employ 30 staff by the end of 2023, with that number expected to grow further through 2024.

The company said that South Africa was chosen as the location for Kirby Group’s first base outside Europe for multiple reasons, including the standard of education and the “talented workforce”, according to a statement from the company.

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The lack of a language barrier was another reason for choosing Cape Town.

Group Executive Chairman Jimmy Kirby said that the expansion shows the confidence in the company’s future.

“Our firm has recorded significant growth in recent years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team and the trust placed in us by our valued customers.”

“Expansion outside the EU and into South Africa represents a great opportunity to access local talent here and is a statement of confidence in the future of this company,” he said.

Mr Kirby continued: “This move has been 12 months in the planning and execution, and we’ve enjoyed a very warm welcome from the South African government and business community.”

“I’d like to thank Enterprise Ireland and Invest South Africa for all their help so far and I look forward to building on Kirby’s relationships here long into the future.”

Speaking from Kirby’s new office in South Africa, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that he was excited to the such significant expansion of an Irish company.

“Having visited Kirby’s headquarters in 2021 for the announcement of another significant expansion plan, I’m delighted to be here today and see the continued growth of a strong Irish company – and indeed a milestone for the sector in which Kirby is operating,” He said.

“Establishing a presence in South Africa offers many benefits to a company such as Kirby. Ireland’s business and trade links with South Africa are strong and growing, and Kirby is very much at the forefront of that growth,” the Tánaiste concluded.