Troggs store front header

Northern Ireland’s Troggs Surf Store Turns 40

Having started trading all the way back in 1984, Troggs in Portrush, Northern Ireland has established itself as one of the UK and Ireland’s leading surf shops. Set to celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, we grabbed owner Andrew Hill to talk all things surf!

Please give us a brief history about your stores.
We will be celebrating 40 years in surf retail this year, starting from humble beginnings in a garage at our Guest House in Portrush in 1984, to present day, where we now have 2 stores in the town; our Main St store, which is now fully fashion lifestyle focused, and our new store which is Irelands largest hardware store for surfboards and wetsuits. We have also been selling online since 1999. In our trading history we also had stores in Portstewart and Ballymena.

How has business been this spring vs last year? Do you have more local customers or tourists this season?
We have had a slower start to the season this year, weather was cold this Easter break and we haven’t experienced too many tourists, a few Americans and Germans so far and our domestic market has been much quieter than last year. We are seeing a trend of more visitors from Scotland, Mainland UK and Southern Ireland coming to visit the area famous for its outstanding coastline, surfing conditions and of course Golf! Portrush hosts the 153rd The Open at Royal Portrush July 2025, so I’m sure we will see Stephen Bell here and possibly Kelly Slater!

Troggs surfboards

Andrew Hill

Which brands are super-hot right now and which products are selling well so far this season?
Rip Curl, Saltrock, Vans, Yeti, Alder, O’Neill and Pyzel.

Any new brands catching your eye?
We have re-introduced Oxbow, and Picture and Florence Marine are new brands for us. With the new hardware store, we have expanded our offering of Surfboards including Pyzel, Christiaan Bradley, Sharpeye, Mark Phipps, Firewire, Lost and more, we now have over 300 surfboards in stock.

What are you hoping/expecting to see in product lines from brands for next season?
I would like to see product lines containing more recycled or sustainable fabrics and materials. I also hope brands work on their manufacturing principals and ethics, hopefully seeing more brands gain a B Certified Corporation Certificate or similar.

How much of your business is done online? What are the benefits of having a physical shop over simply having an online store?
Almost 15% of our business is online currently. We are seeing a return to the physical stores especially in hardware from our investment in the new store, there seems to be a trend where surfers physically wish to try on wetsuits and get the feeling of a board below their arm.

A physical store acts as a hub for the surfing community offering expert local advice creating a sense of belonging and loyalty and supporting the local surfing scene. Our new flagship destination store has attracted surfers from all over the country where now they can see and get a more deep level exposure to some of the best surfing equipment available on the market, we have expanded our range of FCS and Futures fins, board bags leashes and traction.

What marketing tools are you using to keep your shop name out there?
We have an active Instagram and Facebook page with daily video surf reports and are hoping to initiate product reviews on our YouTube channel shortly. We have recently sponsored some of Ireland’s up and coming hot surfing talent. Troggs surfboard wall

Are you doing anything innovative to give your consumers unique products/experiences?
More of our own brand development in fashion own logo clothing, and we are following up on some ideas we gained from Surf Expo in Florida this year. We are hoping to throw a big party for the Northern Ireland Surfing Community this summer to celebrate 60 years since my father Ian Hill first surfed here in April 1964, and to celebrate Surf Retail here for 40 years and the Surf School which has operated for 30 years since 1994.

What do you predict for the future of surf retail?
Physical surf shops will have to foster a community driven space allowing for unique experience events, workshops and surf related activities as well as providing personal expert and customer service which is unequalled online. Who knows far in the future with advancements in technology, will allow for more customisation options in both wetsuits and surf boards both in dimension and design

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