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Over 47 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry







Over 47 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry


etail, food and farming representatives are urging MPs to reach agreement and end the chaos around Brexit, unanimous in their call to avoid a no-deal Brexit. In the latest development before this edition goes to print, the House of Commons voted on January 29 for Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate with the EU for an alternative to the Irish border backstop arrangement. MPs also voted for an amendment to reject a no-deal Brexit, after the PM’s initial withdrawal agreement was rejected by Parliament on January 15 and she narrowly avoided a vote of no confidence. The Irish government has stated it will veto any return to a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, while both European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have ruled out changes to the backstop arrangement originally agreed with May. At the end of January, 20 representatives from business, farming, trade unions and the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland visited Westminster to urge local MPs and leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National


Party to unite and protect Northern Ireland jobs, consumers and the economy. A joint statement from the representatives said the Northern Ireland business community is united behind a position that a no-deal outcome would be an unmitigated disaster for Northern Ireland, and agreement with the EU, even if that includes a backstop, is required. “It is not acceptable for Parliament to continue to create uncertainty,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI, and part of the delegation. “This is having consequences as is apparent in our businesses and in our high streets. “The actions of parliamentarians from across the House is not acceptable and I will be pleading with the leadership of the opposition parties that they need to reach across the chamber and avoid a calamitous crashing out of the EU which will have dire impact on consumers and jobs.” Following the January 29 Commons vote, Ivor Ferguson, president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, said: “Leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland’s farming families and their businesses. “No deal means high tariffs on our exports creating an effective trade embargo and the possibility of lower






standard imports flooding the UK market. These practical issues will have an immediate and profound impact on farmers. Causing major disruptions to the supply chain, crippling the industry and rendering our farmers uncompetitive. “We are continuing to work closely with DAERA on no-deal contingency planning. However, in addition to this practical and logistical planning, to prevent the total collapse of our farming industry, farmers will need separate and additional funding for off-setting crisis measures.” The four farming unions of the UK have jointly urged MPs to avoid a no-deal scenario, which they say could result in huge disruption around the export of UK animals and animal-based products; customs tariffs of up to 65% on beef, 46% on lamb and 27% on chicken; and an increase in lower quality imports. RoI food manufacturer Greencore, run by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney’s brother Patrick Coveney, meanwhile said it was poised to airlift key ingredients to the UK in the event of a hard Brexit. Greencore has been stockpiling ingredients, and is in agreement with a warning from the British Retail Consortium and supermarket chains that a no-deal Brexit could leave supermarket shelves empty.






email: Volume 54, Number 2 FEBRUARY 2019 Editor: Alyson Magee E: Tel: 028 9026 4175 Contributors: Michele Shirlow, Jason Winstanley Sales Manager: Chris Keenan E: Tel: 028 9026 4266 Art Editor: Helen Wright Production Manager: Irene Fitzsimmons Ulster Grocer c/o Independent News & Media Ltd, Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BG @ulstergrocer Subscriptions: £27.50 per annum £37.50 per annum (outside UK) Designed & Produced by: Independent News & Media Ltd Tel: 028 9026 4000 Printed by: W&G Baird, Antrim Tel: 028 9446 3911 Latest ABC figures state that Ulster Grocer has an average net circulation of 5,846 per edition (1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018) Independent News & Media Ltd ©2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or stransmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Independent News & Media Ltd.




rustration would be the word best describing the current mood (of the nation, not just mine) but we’ll get to that. Let’s open on the positives and take a look at some of the great businesses showcased in this month’s Ulster Grocer. When one of our writers proposed a small fruit and veg shop in Carnmoney for the store focus, my first thought was, well that doesn’t sound too promising. Immediately thereafter, however, I had a lightbulb moment and realised I did indeed know that very shop and it was well worth a profile. And it was a reminder that many of the gems of our local grocery sector are in fact small, independent shops that might not look like much from the outside but can be a revelation once you enter the store. In the case of Helen’s fruit and vegetables in Carnmoney, its exterior is quite impressive too with its long shop front always adorned with elaborate displays of fruit, veg, plants and, at Christmas, trees and wreaths. Walk inside, meanwhile, and prepare to be surprised at the range of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, ready meals, deli, biscuits and confectionary on offer; all served up with that personal touch unique to small, local shops. Only coming across the shop by chance – my daughter attends a dance class in the hall opposite – it was one of those occasions when you need something and pop into the nearest place with low expectations but find, not only what you were looking for, but much else besides. I had a similar experience with Lusty’s Centra in Larne which, before its fancy refurb, had somewhat of a lowly appearance. Seeking an obscure liqueur for a cocktail, I had exhausted all other outlets in the area and, as a last-ditch effort, called into Lusty’s which I knew to have an off licence. Wow, what a surprise; it doesn’t half… I found my

liqueur and everything else you might want in that department. And it was with great pleasure when, subsequently, a local to that store told me how he made regular trips to The Vineyard in Belfast to stock up on his favourite Kinnegar craft beers. No need my good friend, I relayed, you can find them on your very doorstep. He was astonished, and I’ve seen him in there quite a few times since then. Our retail news, meanwhile, includes SPAR’s new concept store in Carrickfergus, which looks like it could be worth a visit with its food-to-go focus. And across our food and drink news pages, ongoing investment and innovation is apparent with, for example, Finnebrogue injecting £3m into a new vegan factory; Deli-Lites, £250,000 in an innovation hub; and Dale Farm teaming up with sugar-free, high-protein icecream brand Wheyhey as distributor. Back to frustration and, as you’ll see from our news pages, politics are to blame. We are now into the third year of the Stormont stalemate and, between our lack of local government and the chaos of Westminster, local business people are feeling that no-one has their back. Retailers are facing a variety of challenges, with the latest examples including suspension of the Rural ATM Rate Relief Scheme and an inability to adopt new crime prevention measures; all because we have no Assembly. And as the farcical show of Brexit keeps rolling on, one of our local politicians feels it appropriate to respond to concerns over food supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit with ‘go to the chippy’. Said in jest perhaps, but there are very few of us finding anything amusing about our local politicians’ role in the Brexit debacle.

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package of measures introduced by Crime Minister Victoria Atkins, to tackle violence against retailers, has been welcomed by retail newsagents’ federation NFRN. However, continued suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly is preventing adoption of legislation to locally introduce the protective measures. NFRN had shared its members’ concerns about the safety of shop owners and their staff, especially when selling age-restricted products, with the minister, and was among stakeholders attending a recent industry summit on retail crime in London. The package, to be introduced when the Offensive Weapons Bill currently before Parliament reaches committee stage in the House of Lords, includes a

Last month, a shop worker in north Belfast, Lucia Felloni, threw cans of Boost energy drink to defend herself in an attempted robbery. The assailant had threatened to throw acid in her face.

call for evidence on violence and abuse towards shop workers; funding to raise awareness of existing legislation in place to protect shop workers; and refreshing the work of the National Retail Crime Steering Group to focus exclusively on violence and abuse.


“Far too many retailers experience verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis and this unacceptable situation is something that we, at the NFRN, have been trying to raise awareness of for some time,” said Mike Mitchelson, national president of NFRN. “We are pleased to see that our political lobbying is bearing fruit and that the Government is now taking notice of the NFRN’s concerns about the abuse that shop owners and their staff suffer while serving behind the counter. “It is equally pleasing that the National Retail Crime Steering Group on violent crime is to hold a special session to look into violence and crime toward shop workers. “NFRN looks forward to seeing these measures take effect as they will better protect all retail workers and we will work closely with both Mrs Atkins and the Home Office to deliver a safer working environment for shop owners and their staff.”




etailers as well as the public are being failed by the lack of an Executive here. Reaching two years without a sitting Assembly or Executive is an ignominious accolade. We have been falling behind our neighbours to the south and to the east on issues that affect our industry and the 90,000 people we employ as Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employer. In this past two years across the UK we have seen the debate on business taxation drive forward. Headway coming from the Barclay review in Scotland such as three-year revaluations is now being delivered and the same is happening in Wales and England. They have also set the poundage rate for Scotland at 49p in the pound, while here we have a poundage of up to 63p in the pound. The fact that retail in Northern Ireland is 12% of the economy but pays almost a quarter of business rates is simply untenable.

We also have no access to the millions of pounds that we are paying into the Apprenticeship Levy which has become no more than a tax. We need reform to allow us to remove the barriers of age and of delivery that mean that the system and the Levy do not work for our industry. This is in stark comparison to Scotland where not only is there a Flexible Workforce Development Fund but Levy payers can claim back £15,000 of their fees. Both the reforms needed for business rates and for the Apprenticeship Levy could happen very quickly, if we had our Assembly back up and running. But this is not just about money. According to the last British Retail Consortium Crime Survey, nearly 51 retail workers were injured every day in the UK. Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, that is why our sister organisations, the Scottish, Welsh and British Retail Consortia, have

been supportive of legislation in their jurisdictions to protect workers. In Westminster there is a major push to ensure the Offensive Weapons Bill provides to create a new offence of assaulting or threatening a retail colleague. What do we have in Northern Ireland? Nothing. No Assembly, no Executive, no Minister, and no means to ensure that retail workers here are afforded the same protection as in Great Britain. Two years of no Executive has slowed progress on many issues to a snail’s pace. It is making Northern Ireland a less competitive place to do business, not only now but for investment decisions being made going forward. And perhaps worst of all, we have no Assembly at a time of Brexit, the biggest economic and political upheaval in a generation. It’s time for our parties to get back to work and protect the economy, jobs and our workers. 2019 would be a better place for business in Northern Ireland if we have an Executive to take the bold decisions needed.





obs at 50 Tesco stores around Northern Ireland could be affected after the supermarket giant announced the potential loss of up to 9,000 roles across its head office and stores. The supermarket, which employs around 9,000 staff here, said it expected around half of the affected employees could be redeployed to new roles. It said the job cuts are part of efforts to “simplify” the business. Sweeping changes across the business will include a reduction in deli, fish and meat counters, with 90 stores set to lose the service altogether. The company did not respond to a

request for detail on how the changes would affect its Northern Ireland stores. However, Primacy Butchers in Co Down, which operates counters in 12 Tesco stores here, said it did not expect to be affected as it operates separately to Tesco. “We stand on our own so it doesn’t affect us,” a spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, trade union Unite has called for urgent talks with Tesco bosses. Unite is recognised at four distribution centres with about 1,000 members who deliver to stores across the UK. The centres are in Belfast, Oxfordshire, Doncaster and Essex. George Brash, regional officer, said: “It is simply not acceptable that a company

which has just reported its 12th consecutive quarter of growth and profits in the billions to treat its workers like this. This decision is designed simply to maximise the return to shareholders. “This is a case of corporate greed trumping the needs of their workers and even the quality of the offering they provide consumers. “Unite represents drivers and workers in both Boucher Road and Antrim distribution centres. “We want to secure a meeting quickly with management on the impact these cuts will have on the wider Tesco workforce in Northern Ireland.”


From left, Eimear McCooey, Marie Curie and Lucy McCormack, Henderson Group.

PAR NI’s staff initiatives and shopper donations have helped push SPAR’s UK-wide total for Marie Curie over £1m. SPAR stores in Northern Ireland began fundraising at the start of the partnership in March 2017 and have contributed over £200,000 to the UK-wide total, which is the equivalent of paying for 10,000 hours of care from Marie Curie nurses. Fundraising activities have included the Great Daffodil Appeal in March 2017, the sale of red Stetson hats at the Balmoral Show in May 2018, Blooming Great Tea Party in June 2018, and donations from sandwich sales. “Our local shoppers and store teams have an incredible track record for fundraising, and we’re very proud to have contributed such a significant amount of money to Marie Curie in Northern Ireland since our partnership began,” said Bronagh Luke, head of Corporate Marketing, Henderson Group. “The upcoming Spring 2019 events will include the Great Daffodil Appeal during which we will be selling the iconic daffodil pins throughout our regional stores, as well as the launch of SPAR an Hour, where we’re asking people to donate an hour of their time to volunteer for the charity.”



bomb attack, outside Bishop Street Courthouse in Derry City Centre last month, has been condemned by Retail NI. “This was a totally shameful and despicable attack on Derry City centre with hundreds of people enjoying a night out,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail Ni. “Whilst it’s fortunate 6

no injuries occurred, people’s lives could have been easily lost. “Derry City Centre traders have been working extremely hard in recent years to provide an excellent retail and hospitality offer. The people of Derry have shown their resilience many times and I have no doubt this reckless attack will not hold them back.”




epresentatives of the Northern Ireland farming community have challenged proposals to dramatically reduce red meat consumption in a recent report issued by the EAT Lancet Commission. “The report tells us much of what we already know and can agree on; food must be produced sustainably across the globe to ensure that a growing population can be fed,” said Ian Stevenson, chief executive of the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC). “Where our viewpoint differs is the

suggestion that global red meat consumption needs to reduce by 50% to approximately 14g a day. Red meat plays an important role in a healthy balanced diet and reducing intakes to this level may have significant unintended consequences on the health of the population and the Ian Stevenson natural landscape. “Red meat is rich in iron, zinc, B-vitamins and protein, to name a few, and the UK government recommends consuming 70g per day. Any cut in red meat intake may have an unintended detrimental impact on health.



arcode Festival, the reinvention of charity GroceryAid’s key summer fundraising event, has announced the line-up for its second annual event at Hawker House, London, on July 4. Kicking off the party will be Grammy and double Brit Award winners Basement Jaxx, followed by Jessie J with her eclectic mix of R&B, soul and dance, and radio favourite Nick Grimshaw with one of his legendary DJ sets. Barcode has again received incredible support from the industry with major brands, wholesalers and retailers lining up to sponsor the event including the return of many last year’s 40 sponsors. Mars Wrigley Confectionery will be sponsoring the Main Stage. Complementing the music entertainment will, meanwhile, be street food, a variety of bars to suit all

tastes and other activations and entertainment. “Last year numerous companies used Barcode tickets as a team incentive or reward,” said Steve Barnes, CEO, GroceryAid. “I’m convinced this year’s amazing line-up will encourage even more grocery colleagues to ensure they get to join the party.” All funds raised go to GroceryAid, the industry charity supporting grocery colleagues dealing with tough times. Tickets are £300 per ticket, including all food & drink. For more information, call 01252 875925, email events@ or visit www.

For example, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, iron intake among Northern Irish females, especially those under the age of 18, is as little as 50% of the lower recommended nutrient intake.” And David Brown, deputy president of UFU, also highlighted the environmental benefits of red meat production. “In Northern Ireland, our grassland and hill land are massive natural carbon sinks, capturing CO2 and storing it,” he said. “Work is underway to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we recognise there is still David Brown more to be done. “When you buy food that is ‘grown not flown’ not only are you helping the planet but you are keeping local farmers in business. And when it comes to red meat, consumers can be confident when they buy Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef or lamb they are getting a product that meets some of the world’s toughest animal welfare and environmental standards.”



iscount chain Lidl is preparing to build its 39th store in Northern Ireland in a total investment of nearly £7m, creating 20 jobs, and scheduled to open in the autumn. It’s set to demolish an existing building in Dundonald to make way for a new concept food store on Dunlady Road. The site, which already belongs to Lidl, has been leased to bargain retailer B&M since 2012. It will close its Dundonald store on January 24, with the hope of relocating staff to other branches. Lidl’s plan to build a new large format store has already been recommended for approval by planning officials at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council. 7




arnmoney is a very historic place: for example, the local Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest in Ireland, dating from 1657. The site was even previously home to a dissenters’ meeting house. Directly opposite, is Helen’s fruit and veg shop. It may not have as long a heritage to call upon, being just decades old, but stands as a vital part of what to this day is still recognised as Carnmoney Village. Long since absorbed into the greater Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough - and virtually part of Belfast’s northern ‘urban sprawl’ - Carnmoney Village could easily have lost all of its identity. Not so, with this iconic shop being at the ‘heart’ of the village. It is seen by many as more than just a retail outlet, acknowledged instead as a unique facet of local life. Today, Helen’s (previously known as Helen and Alan’s) not only provides an essential daily service to the local community, with pensioners and other needy customers enjoying free evening delivery to their door, but also providing employment to numerous local food manufacturers. Seven years after taking over the shop, which had already expanded in several 8

stages from an original much smaller facility, the proprietor John Cassells (universally known as ‘Jackie’) can lay claim to a major role in preserving the village’s identity. It is one of a small number of local retailers doggedly facing down encroaches from not only the UK multiples, but also by the the expansion of numerous symbol group stores nearby. “Customers can of course get fresh produce such as oranges, apples and

potatoes cheaper in Tesco, but they shop here for quality,” says Jackie. That quality extends to a range of sandwiches, pastries, a variety of soft drinks (including a chiller selection) and juices as well as the basics of milk – even almond milk – confectionery, newspapers, specialised foods, such as duck eggs and

of course, acres of fresh vegetables and fruit. Jackie ‘knows his onions’ too, as fruit and veg virtually runs in his veins given his family background. Brought up locally, in Glengormley, Jackie worked in the trade from an early age. “In the 1960s, my late father Robert ran Cassells, a family-owned fruit and vegetable wholesaler, with his own van on the road, supported by my late mum, Frances,” he says. “While still at school, I worked weekends and holidays as his assistant and learnt the trade from bottom to top, moving on after leaving school to working full time in the family business. “Dad - who sadly passed away in 2018 – supplied retailers across most of east Antrim with quality fruit and veg – all purchased the same morning from the markets in Belfast - supplied right to their own premises, daily. “It was a steep learning curve for me as a youngster barely turned 16, but it certainly stood me in good stead as the business progressed.” Later on, Jackie and his younger brother, Kenneth, effectively took control of the wholesale business to allow their dad some element of retirement.

STORE FOCUS FARMER “He had previously discovered a fantastic farm property in rural Gleno, near Larne and bought it,” says Jackie. “He moved the family away from the greater Belfast conurbation and Newtownabbey’s fast expanding suburban sprawl. He happily raised pigs, sheep, cattle and horses, among other livestock, alongside us of course. “The farm was more of a pastime than a career though as, by the 1970s, the wholesale business was prospering.” During his years working in the wholesale trade, Jackie discovered an opportunity, that Helen and Alan’s, a long-established fruit shop set atop Carnmoney Hill, might be for sale. “The Bell family’s shop had already been trading for over 40 years, originally as a grocery store and nearby newsagent and then expanding into a separate fruit shop, before metamorphosing into just a large speciality fruit and vegetable shop, run by the original Helen and Alan Bell’s son, Mark,” he says. “I took over the retail business on November 25, 2012. Very long hours and hard work have since cemented the already established trade.” With his store opening hours from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week, only closing Christmas Day, Easter and The Twelfth, it is already a long day. Add to that a 4am start to reach the wholesalers by 5am - to select the best possible produce - and that’s just some idea of what it takes to run a truly independent specialist retail business. But that’s only a small part of the story as suppliers, sometimes very close to the shop, are reaping the benefits too. “A supplier just a half mile away, in Ballyduff, Country Cakes, provides all our fancy bread products under their own label and Jayne Protein Delites adds delightful low calorie small muffins to the shelves. “Potatoes come straight from local farms and specialist Northern Ireland suppliers in a range of varieties, such as Blues, Pinks, Maris Pyper and Navan. “My own son, Lee supplies the shop with coleslaw, cooking sauces and other associated products from his familyrun business, Iris’s Fine Foods that specialises in creating and delivering high quality, fresh foods to a wide range of businesses.” Jackie also cites his wide range of flowers and plants for sale in season that adds hugely to the colourful shop front. “It’s therefore not just me and the very small number of staff who benefit - many others in the supplier side do too,” he

says. “But that’s all part of the community orientation for the business. We may not be cheaper, but the freshness and quality is second to none, and the emphasis is on local produce and helping to develop numerous small producers in east Antrim too. “Not bad for a young lad from Glengormley’s Queen’s Park Estate.” HERITAGE Carnmoney is steeped in history. Just as one other example, the nearby town of Coole (now Rathcoole) suffering severely in the wars of The Bruces, being burnt and destroyed completely by a Norman baron, John De Logan, and other enemies of the then King in 1333. It saw much conflict in the innerving centuries, including the landing of William of Orange’s army in 1690, just nearby. Today, Carnmoney Village is more peaceful but is still a place apart, with its own identity flowing from the ‘across the counter’ chat in Helen’s fruit shop,

the local pub, the Hill Tavern, whose potbelly stove has warmed many a winter’s tale and those of the rest of the surviving retailers. Although the nearby Carnmoney Post Office is now long gone, and the local car sales business closed down, faced by the onslaught of multiples and symbol groups, the remaining retailers persevere. There’s still the modern, much expanded church and church halls, a clothes recycler, pharmacy, an optician and a carpet shop, no less than two hairdressers as well as a barber and even a baby care shop. All enhanced of course – now and for many decades to come – by this truly fresh produce outlet, Helen’s. It provides much more than the multiples can with their large, usually crowded car park, acres of shopping trolleys and a banal checkout experience, devoid of Jackie’s famous craic, which he is determined to provide for many years to come. 9


NFRN & RETAIL NI SUPPORT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REVITALISING AILING HIGH STREETS N FRN has expressed strong support for a new report published by the Expert Panel on High Streets, and said it is looking forward to working with High Streets Minister Jake Berry. The Panel on High Streets, chaired by Sir John Timpson and including representatives from the retail sector, looked at solutions to tackle structural issues facing high streets. The report draws up concrete proposals to give life to the future High Streets Task Force and High Streets Fund. It also draws a new vision for town centres in the UK, in which local leaders and businesses work in harmony to improve customers’ experience and boost local economies. “Empowering local leaders and retailers is key to turn our deserted High Streets into vibrant community

hubs,” said Mike Mitchelson, president. “NFRN has urged public authorities to acknowledge that reality for years, so I’m glad to see that our call has been heard. Our members will welcome all opportunities to work more closely with local authorities. Together, we can design realistic, practical solutions that work for customers and shop owners.” Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said: “This is a very worthwhile and well thought out document which sets out new thinking for the future of our town centres in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It is very much in line with our own Regeneration NI report. “Our 11 local councils need to read this report and implement many of its key recommendations. Retail NI strongly supports the report’s central message that town centres need to become





roceryAid, the national charity for the grocery industry, is organising GroceryAid Day, an awareness initiative set to take place for the first time on February 26. To become an annual event, it aims to make everybody who works in the grocery industry aware of the practical, emotional and financial support available to them. “Awareness is a primary focus for the charity because, despite helping over 14,500 colleagues last year, we know many more remain unaware of our services,” said Helen Kershaw, marketing communications manager at GroceryAid. “We are asking all our supporters on 26th February to hold awareness activities telling their colleagues about how we can help 10

when a crisis hits. “They can put up posters, hand out materials, share our video, feature us on their intranets and of course shout about us on social media with #GroceryAidDay.” To show appreciation for the support received from the industry over the previous 12 months, the charity will also use the day to announce their 2019 GroceryAid Awards. To get involved in #GroceryAidDay, share the hashtag on social media, get in touch with news@groceryaid. for ideas and resources or visit groceryaid-awareness-day for more information and the free Awareness Day pack.

community hubs, to include leisure, social services, residential along with retail and hospitality.” In reference to the High Street Fund announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget, Mitchelson said: “NFRN challenges councils to develop a scheme of improvements by accessing this funding. I welcome the recommendations to facilitate access to data, expert support and examples of best practice. This will surely help our members make enlightened business decisions.” The report also urges local authorities to ensure their parking restrictions and charges are not driving people out of their town centres, while Mitchelson expressed regret it does not mention business rates, one of the most pressing issues for its members.

etail NI has described suspension of the Rural ATM Rate Relief Scheme, which is costing Retail NI members an extra £130,000, as disgraceful. The scheme provided rates relief on external ATMs for over 70 independent retailers in rural areas and has been suspended as a result of Stormont not meeting. “This is a completely unacceptable situation, with rural independent retailers receiving additional rate bills of up to £8,000 on top of already high business rate costs,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI. “The suspension of this scheme is a direct result of Stormont not meeting to pass an annual technical vote to approve this rate relief, costing an additional £130,000 for struggling small retailers in rural areas. “Small businesses are now directly paying the price of the inability of the political parties to secure agreement and form a Government at Stormont. With so many bank branch closures in rural towns and villages in recent years, our members’ ATMs provide an invaluable service to their local communities. “There is a real danger our members could start to remove these ATMs unless urgent action is taken to restore this rate relief scheme. Retail NI has always taken the view that ATMs should not receive a separate rates bill.”


SPAR OPENS NEW FOOD-TO-GO FOCUSED STORE S PAR has opened a new concept store in the Fortfield area at Belfast Road, Carrickfergus following a £2.7m investment. Mixing an array of well-known, foodto-go brands with local fresh product ranges, a coffee shop and a Post Office, SPAR’s latest concept store opened for business on December 14 and is the first SPAR store in Northern Ireland to operate under this revamped format. The new store is more than double the size of its predecessor, boasting a shop floor sales area of 7,000 square feet and will offer a host of new additions, including a butchery supplied by K&G McAtamney and goods from both local, artisan and internationally-renowned

Gary Reid opened SPAR Fortfield in December with Adrian Mellon, store manager; Ian Mullan, area manager; Pat McGarry, director of Group Logistics and Distribution, Henderson Group; and store staff.

producers. “Along with the first-ever Barista Bar Café, we will also have Burger King and Subway concessions on site and

our enhanced dailyDeli bar means we can cater for every occasion and appetite,” said Adrian Mellon, store manager. “We’ve seen the demand for food-to-go and delicatessen increase significantly over the past number of years, so it was hugely important for us to really focus on developing this aspect of the store but also to provide comfortable seating, drive-thru and toilet facilities. “What makes this store so unique however, is that this improved food-to-go offering has not been to the detriment of the number of products we had previously on our shelves. With the increase in size, the two ranges no longer have to compete for space and I’m confident that this new concept will be extremely popular with our customers.”


From left, Ciara McClafferty, trading director, and Brendan Gallen, head of Marketing, Musgrave.


uperValu, Centra and Mace are celebrating the opening of the 100th Frank and Honest site in Northern Ireland, following a £2.25m investment over the last two years. The first Frank and Honest machine

was installed in Northern Ireland in 2016 and, since then, the gourmet coffee has become the biggest selling on-the-go coffee brand on the island of Ireland. The 100th Frank and Honest site opened in Lilley’s Centra Drumlyon, Enniskillen, and expansion of the coffee brand is set to continue. “We installed the first Frank and Honest machine in Northern Ireland in June 2016 in Centra Cathedral Quarter,” said Ciara McClafferty, trading director, Musgrave. “Since then, we have sold over two million cups of Frank and Honest Coffee which is 37.5 tonnes of beans and our weekly sales are over 50,000 cups. These incredible numbers

are telling us that we have found the right formula in providing a premium coffee brand that delivers on taste. “Each store, whether under the SuperValu, Centra or Mace brand, has its own distinctive Frank and Honest dispensing station with a range of coffees backed up by a tempting bakery range. Store owners and staff have been trained in the operation, maintenance and cleanliness of the Frank and Honest stations. But the all-important bottom line is that, on average, retailers have seen doubledigit growth in sales volume as a result of having the Frank and Honest coffee offering in store.”



ostcutter Supermarkets Group has supplied its top 200 retailers with wrapped dump bins after new research revealed that they are the most effective off-shelf solution to drive shopper engagement. The first-of-its-kind review saw CSG partner with leading point-of-purchase (POP) experts, HIM, to bring together extensive shopper expertise and vision tracking technology. The six-month long programme saw nearly half a million POP display interactions captured and analysed. Using specially-designed ClipCam micro cameras, to show exactly what the shopper has seen and analyse behaviour, shopper

interviews and POS auditions, the review revealed that dump bins with a wrap are the most effective off-shelf solution to help increase impulse purchases. The review revealed that wrapped dump bins deliver a 11.1% engagement ratio and a staggering 9.6% conversion-to-sale ratio, in comparison to traditional gondola end displays which deliver a 3.9% conversion. “Our mission is to help independent retailers thrive, giving them the insights and support they need to grow their businesses,” said Sean Russell, director of marketing, Costcutter Supermarkets Group. “As well as sharing the POP findings, we have supplied our top 200 retailers with

dump bins, giving them the opportunity to drive sales and increase their bottom line by using them for fast-moving promotions, increasing brand awareness and visibility. “We are committed to expanding the shopper insights we provide. The next phase of our Shopper First programme will see retailers given much deeper understanding of their existing and potential local shoppers, so they can develop truly local offers. “For many of our retailers, it is small, incremental changes which have delivered the strongest results and we’ll continue to share best practice and secrets to success across our network.” 11



idl Northern Ireland raised over £420,000 for local charities and community groups, including almost £194,000 for staff-chosen charity partner NSPCC Northern Ireland, in 2018 according to its Impact Report published last month. Lidl Northern Ireland also made a series of new direct investments in its local Northern Ireland supplier network. The retailer sourced £80m in goods from over 50 local suppliers, further cementing its commitment to local producers and the community. Lidl Northern Ireland embarked on a two-year charity partnership with the NSPCC in November 2017 in which it pledged to raise a total of £250,000 before the end of 2019; almost 80% of that total has already been raised thanks to the efforts of its customers and over 850 staff, and successful initiatives such as the recent Christmas Trolley Dash. “We remain ardently committed to our communities and to ensure that we deliver the largest positive impact from the range of environmental, social and charity programmes we operate and I’m so pleased that, collectively, we have made such a significant and positive difference,” said Conor Boyle, regional director for Lidl Northern Ireland. Lidl NI was also responsible for more than 156,000 meals delivered to people in need in every county in Northern Ireland in 2018 as part of its partnership with social enterprise innovator FoodCloud, which connects retailers that have surplus food with local charities in their community.



lueberries and raspberries overtook potatoes and broccoli to become Asda UK’s sixth and seventh-most purchased produce in 2018, with blueberry sales growing by 53%. Staples such as bananas, grapes and clementines still sit in the top five, with raspberries jumping eight places and blueberries six places in popularity. The growth in berry popularity, which sees the three varieties breaking the top six favourites, comes following a bumper year for British berries, which flourished thanks to consistent months of sun and warm weather. Other British-grown fruit and veg have also made home in the top 10, including cucumbers (five), gala apples (eight) and peppers (10). Meanwhile, old favourites have tumbled out of the top 10, with broccoli (11), tomatoes (12) and mushrooms (13), making way for sweeter fruit bowl choices.




idl Northern Ireland has committed to providing 100% sustainablysourced fish through its growing network of 38 stores across Northern Ireland by the end of 2019. Already, 80% of wild-caught chilled and frozen fish available at Lidl Northern Ireland is certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC*) standard, and 65% of Lidl’s farmed fish is sourced from independentlycertified sustainable fisheries; set to increase to 100% by the end of 2019. All of Lidl’s canned tuna is already responsibly sourced using either pole and line fishing, fish aggregating device-free fishing methods or is MSC certified. “Safeguarding fish stocks for the future is an issue we are passionate about at Lidl and we are proud to be leading the way in the Northern Irish retail market with our commitments,” said Liam Casey, commercial director at Lidl Ireland.

NORTHERN IRELAND RECORDS FASTEST GROWTH IN SPENDING POWER OF ALL UK REGIONS N orthern Ireland’s discretionary household income gap with the rest of the UK has narrowed, according to Asda’s latest Income Tracker report, with a 5.5% increase in family spending power in Q4; up from 4.4% in Q3. However, while the NI unemployment figure has fallen below the national average to 3.5%, discretionary household income in NI is still the lowest in the UK at £109 per week; £97 less than the average UK household. The new figures have been

released by Asda on the 10th anniversary of its Income Tracker report, compiled by CEBR. “There have been ups and downs over the last decade, with the region continuing to face challenges and, as a retailer, we know how this impacts on family life,” said George Rankin, senior director NI, Asda. “It’s great to see that the available weekly income is finally on the up and the gap between NI and other UK regions is narrowing. There may be uncertainties ahead, but Income Tracker clearly indicates that we’re making progress.”


MY LIFE IN THE GROCERY TRADE EMILY McCORKELL, OWNER OF LO & SLO, DERRY HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? I launched Lo & Slo in 2018 at the Slow Food Festival in Derry with two sauces, Sweet & Smoky Barbecue Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Vinegar Mop. I had been active on social media and blogging prior to launching. WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB? I love creating. I’m a creative person naturally, so thinking up flavours, meals, and ideas for two, three, or four years down the road is exhilarating for me. I also love admin and creating order out of chaos. I think the thing that really bothers me most about my job is how much I don’t know. Because I have no background in food or business, I feel as though I’m on the back foot, trying to master things quicker than I’m able. BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY I have been producing my sauces at the Foodovation Centre in North West Regional College, so my day starts around 9.30am after dropping my kids off to school. I start by unloading all of my ingredients and getting set up to make and bottle sauces. The team there are so knowledgeable and supportive. Other days, I can be seen walking, cycling, and driving around Derry to various businesses dropping off samples, delivering orders, or recipe testing at home. Most days, I have to lift my kids at 3pm. I then catch

up on admin and social media in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed. WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? I’m not sure if it was the proudest moment but at the Slow Food Festival, I was in awe at how many people loved my sauce. There were surreal moments of seeing my product bottled and ready for sale, or making big vats of sauce at Foodovation, but seeing the public’s reaction to my products was unreal. I almost sold out on the first day. My proudest moment was just back in November. I went to a pitch event with Women in Business and ended up earning an award. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY? There are so many good things, I don’t know if I could say what the best is. But I

definitely have two: culinary landscape and local community. I love food anthropology and there has never been a more exciting time to be in Derry. Emmett McCourt is chronicling how a nation survived, not only on the food they ate, but the communities forged through those scarce meals. And then there’s people like Stephen Forbes, who are a part of the inverse effect of the diaspora; Irish people coming home and bringing delicious foods and cultures with them. And I’m a part of that too, despite not being Irish, by bringing American barbecue to the city. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK? I really love reading, music, and art. But my favourite thing to do is cuddling my kids. There’s something about a child’s hug that melts away all the stress and headache of the day. My husband and I always make a point to connect at night and really listen to each other as well. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW I love museums! When I was a kid in Philadelphia, I used to visit the art museum there, and visit the museums in New York as well. I really love observing - art, people, nature, everything. When we lived in Dublin, we took our kids to the museums there often. I think it’s good to see ourselves as a part of a greater story every now and then.




number of our smaller companies have started 2019 with a real flourish, especially in the strategicallyimportant market in Great Britain. We had a group of businesses taking part in our showcase at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show in Glasgow, an initiative with Invest Northern Ireland, last month. Craft brewer Hillstown Brewery, Randalstown, which was in Glasgow with us, was successful in winning a listing with Cotswold Fayre, Britain’s top wholesaler of artisan foods, for its range of impressive farm-brewed beers. And two smaller businesses Burren Balsamics of Richhill and Portrush’s unique Irish Black Butter - took part in the influential Top Drawer expo in London, the UK’s leading event for high-end products including food and drink. Black Butter was also on the stand in Glasgow. And there have been some outstanding successes too in the fast-growing distilling sector here in the shape of exports for our craft gin businesses. Shortcross, our original craft gin, has won business in Australia and now exports to 30 international markets. The Crossgarbased distillery is set to introduce an Irish whiskey. Jawbox has secured business in France and Sweden in recent months. In addition, Copeland, a producer of fruitinfused gins, is now available in hotels and bars in Estonia. Other gins and whiskeys are being developed. For instance, Ion Distillery in Carrickmore, has developed a Caribbean rum, vodka and gin and has plans for an

Irish whiskey. It’s already won business from a major retail chain here. We’ll be stepping up our own support activities in Britain and other markets for our companies during 2019. Central to this will be our developing relationship with Invest NI which will see presentations at major shows in Britain to enable many more of our companies to access the tremendous opportunities developing in Britain for our fabulous food and drink. We are looking forward, in particular, to our return to the iconic Borough Market in London during St Patrick’s week. Our first appearance at the market last year proved to be an outstanding success. These events also enable us to showcase Northern Ireland’s success in being named the World’s Best Food Destination at the World Travel Market in

November. We really do need to make the best of this endorsement because of the opportunities it provides for both food processors and hospitality providers. Another hugely important recognition of our food in the Delicious Food Produce Awards, announced last month, supports our activities in Britain. Our smaller companies collected five of the eight most significant category awards, a superb achievement and the first time one region has dominated the competition run by the UK’s top consumer food magazine. The successful companies were Broughgammon Farm bacon, Ballycastle; Cavanagh Free-Range Eggs, Newtownbutler; Dart Mountain Cheese, Dungiven; Lough Neagh Eels, Toomebridge; and Rooney Fish, Kilkeel. This was unprecedented coverage for Northern Ireland food in such an influential consumer magazine. It also presented the industry here with a real challenge because none of the successful products are currently readily available to shoppers there. We look forward to working with other smaller companies in creating opportunities for them in Britain, our single most important marketplace. We’d hope to encourage and assist them to build relationships there with leading food stores and other specialist retailers seeking the sort of original and outstandingly tasty food now being produced here which is increasingly gaining recognition outside Northern Ireland.



innebrogue Artisan in Downpatrick is opening a new vegan and vegetarian factory in a £3m investment creating up to 90 jobs. The company, which was set up by Denis Lynn and was first known for its venison products, said its research had already ‘revolutionised’ the bacon and ham market with the first nitrite-free bacon launched in 2017. Finnebrogue said it had been producing 14

vegetarian and vegan products for three years, but the opening of a new factory marks a significant up-scaling of the firm’s meat-free production. The new facility is expected to have turnover of £30m a year when at full capacity. “Finnebrogue has always prided itself on providing consumers delicious, innovative products and, given the increasing demand for vegan and vegetarian alternatives, this

new factory was the obvious next step in our extraordinary growth,” said Brian McMonagle, managing director. “We are determined not to stand still and are always looking to make food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done. More and more people are switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet – and even meat eaters are increasingly seeking a day or two off a week.”


CONSUMER INSIGHT AND MARKET UPDATE BY JASON WINSTANLEY, SENIOR INSIGHT AND RESEARCH MANAGER, MOY PARK LOOKING BACK AND AHEAD With 2018 having come to an end, it’s probably fair to say that many consumers face the New Year with a little trepidation. As I write, all Brexit outcomes remain on the table, ranging from the army being called out in the event of a no deal, through to the possibility of a second referendum. These are turbulent and unpredictable times, and it would be no surprise to see a crisis in consumer confidence as a result. Almost incredibly, this has not happened… at least, not yet. At the end of November, the GfK measure of consumer confidence stood at a score of -131, admittedly its lowest score of the year, but only a nudge down from its October showing, and only six points off the high spot that it reached on three occasions during the course of the year. Admittedly, this was before the Prime Minister was challenged, and before talk of army deployments and forgoing European travel, but the Index remains far, far above the level it was at a decade ago, during the height of the Financial Crisis, when it fell to its nadir of -391.

So, yes, these are incredibly uncertain times, but things have been far worse for consumers in the recent past. This is evidenced by the fact that spending is continuing in a variety of areas; premium own label lines are significantly outperforming total grocery2, and the food service market is expected to deliver annual growth this year of 1.5%3. These are not the spending actions of a frantically-worried consumer base. And yet, there remains a sense that confidence is a lot higher than it really has any right to be, given the current circumstances. One of the major elements shoring up confidence at the moment is that wage growth is stronger than it has been for almost a decade; in the three months to September, pay excluding bonuses was up by 3.2% versus the previous year4. At the same time, inflation is gradually falling - in November, it fell to 2.3%, from 2.4% in the previous month4. This means that a gap of almost 1% has opened up between income and the cost of living, meaning that the average household is seeing their finances move in a positive

direction. It is this financial positivity that is acting as a buffer for consumers as Brexit unfolds, but it is a fragile one, which could easily be disrupted by any one of three scenarios (or a combination). Firstly (and probably most likely), the pound could lose value, meaning imports would become more expensive; secondly, imposition of tariffs during 2019 is a very real possibility; and, thirdly, there could be scarcity of goods in the event of disruption at ports and airports. Or… everything may get sorted out, and we could be in for ‘business as usual’ in 2019. The bottom line is that at the moment, we just don’t know. What we can say for certain is that, from a consumer point of view, we could (and maybe should) already be in a far worse position than we are, and that only time will tell if 2018 proves to be the calm before the storm. [Source: 1 – GfK Consumer Confidence, November 2018 and July 2008; 2 – Kantar Worldpanel, 12 weeks to 2nd December 2018; 3 – MCA-Insight; 4 – ONS)

NEWRY FOOD-TO-GO FIRM GROWS YOGHURT SALES BY 200% A n NI-based food-to-go firm has grown its yoghurt sales by 200% in a year, after forming a partnership with Clandeboye Estate. Around Noon, which is headquartered in Newry, entered into a partnership with North Down-based Clandeboye Estate late in 2017 to produce yoghurt for its growing range of products. Now, a year into the partnership, the two firms have grown business significantly and Around Noon supplies its range of yoghurts and filled ‘top hats’ – fruit compote and granola – to customers and major brands operating across the UK and Ireland. “To maintain quality standards, we are selective of the suppliers we work with,” said Dave Graham, executive chef at Around Noon. “Clandeboye Estate has been an excellent fit, being a local company and supplying an all-natural, high-quality product. As

From left, Dave Graham, executive chef at Around Noon and Bryan Boggs, general manager at Clandeboye Estate.

a small batch producer, they can also work with us collaboratively to create new and bespoke products for our customers.” Bryan Boggs, general manager at Clandeboye Estate, said: “Around Noon’s relationships with leading convenience retailers, coffee chains and foodservice operators has enabled the product to be widely distributed and sales have grown as customers seek quality, convenient food. There is also

a movement towards ‘clean’ products, using whole milk and minimal additives. “We take pride in our 100% allnatural yoghurt which has no gelatines, thickeners, emulsifiers or additives of any kind and I think this is an important factor resonating with consumers and helping drive demand.” In recent months, a complete review of the range was completed, and an innovative new packaging system rolled out to extend the shelf life of the range. 15




ood-to-go business Deli-Lites Ireland has invested £250,000 in a new innovation hub and major refurbishment at its headquarters in Warrenpoint with the aim of growing its international business. Creating 20 new full-time jobs, the innovation hub will be used for product-development workshops and demonstrations with clients. The new creative area replicates a retail environment to showcase the company’s growing product range, which includes sandwiches, wraps, bespoké bowls, juices, salad bowls, flatbreads, hot eats and artisan bakery lines. Deli-Lites Ireland is expanding into new international markets, with export orders for its baked goods and hot eats currently

in the pipeline to Germany, Holland, and the Middle East - particularly Dubai - where customers are looking for highquality products from trusted suppliers. “As a chef-led business which is focused on constantly developing new and exciting products and flavour combinations, innovation is at the heart of everything we do,” said Brian Reid, CEO. “This latest investment highlights our commitment to continued growth and development, and our emphasis on client-focused servicing, which we believe has helped us grow and become a trusted supplier to so many customers. “Utilising the skills of our product development team, we work in partnership with our clients to create products which deliver specifically for their needs. The innovation hub gives us the space to expand this process and allows our customers to get a real feel for the retail experience and product offering, which can be adapted to appeal to all tastes and dietary requirements, including vegan, dairy free, low carb, high protein and gluten free.” The business was founded by Brian and Jackie Reid in 1999 and is based outside Warrenpoint, employing over 250 people. Customers include Sainsbury’s, Debenhams, Boots, Applegreen and local foodservice companies.



Co Armagh food firm that supplies some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets expanded its workforce by 10% last year. New accounts for Avondale Foods revealed that, despite pre-tax profits dipping 42% to £2.6m for the year to March 31, 2018, turnover rose 1.5% to £51.5m. The Lurgan company specialises in wet salads, such as coleslaw and potato. It also makes side salads, salad meals, vegetable accompaniments, porridges, soups, and dressings. Customers include Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. The accounts outline a period of sustained growth for the firm. It significantly increased its workforce to 443 over the 2017/18 financial year, recruiting 41 new production staff. The report said 2017/18 had been a year of major investment. The directors said they expect further growth this year through a combination of product development, product efficiency and building key customer relationships. Last July, Avondale announced a deal with Asda to produce 20 lines of the supermarket’s own brand salads. At the time, it said the move would create up to 60 jobs. The new staff for the year to March 31, 2018 resulted in workforce-related costs rising from £9.5m to £10.6m, with the new production workers pushing the firm’s wage bill up by £1m. It also revealed how £433,255 was paid out in remuneration to the company’s directors. Avondale benefited from £1.2m in government grants during 2017/18.




Our beautiful loaf shaped Glacier sweets are boiled to a high temperature giving you a pure clear sweet that consumers have enjoyed for almost 100 years. The range includes the famously refreshing Glacier Mints, as well as the delicious Glacier Fruit, and the Liquorice and Aniseed flavour Glacier Dark for the connoisseur. All the sweets are wax wrapped giving you the assurance of a quality product that is great for sharing on a journey or just as a treat for you to enjoy.


Poppets, the timeless British classic that instantly fills you with memories of your childhood. Available in four fantastic flavours, little has changed over the years and Poppets still represent great value for money by maintaining its pocket money price. Now also available in a sharing bag so the whole family can join in the fun!


XXX Extra Strong Mints, from leading manufacturer Big Bear Confectionery, have continued to go from strength to strength, gaining a reputation for being the strongest extra strong mint on the market. If you are looking for a great breath freshener then this product is for you.


Who can resist hand gathered South American Brazil nuts double enrobed in thick smooth milk or dark chocolate? The perfect treat for the whole family!


All of your favourite retro sweets in one place, from Midget Gems to Mint Humbugs, experience the taste and quality that transports you back in time. With over 20 different varieties to choose from, you are bound to find your particular preference in this classic range.

028 9267 3316





ewry, Mourne and Down District Council has successfully become a Fairtrade district, after years of hard work by the Council, local schools, churches, businesses, colleges and community groups. The City of Newry and towns of Ballynahinch, Downpatrick, Newcastle, Saintfield and Warrenpoint have also attained Fairtrade status. “This makes seven of our 11 council areas that have achieved Fairtrade status to include all our five cities and 22 of our 36 major towns,” said Consul General Dr Christopher Stange, secretariat of the All Party Group on Fairtrade. “The remaining four councils are currently working towards the status. The role that independent retailers from corner shops, petrol stations and supermarkets have played in access to Fairtrade products across Northern Ireland needs to be highlighted. “This is not only increasing availability to product choice for ethical consumers, but also making a difference on the ground for the most marginalised developing world producers.” Councillor Mark Murnin, chairman

From left, back row, Tara McAteer, Aingeal Nic a Nt Sábhoisigh, Patrick McShane, Councillor Terry Andrews, Aine Vance and Sheena McEldowney and, front row, Christoper Stange, Councillor Mark Murnin, and Councillor Harry Harvey.

of the Council, received the official certificate confirming the status at a recent meeting of the Fairtrade steering committee. The award of Fairtrade district status is a dual accreditation from both the Fairtrade Foundation UK and Fairtrade Ireland. “Together the Council and the Fairtrade steering committee have made great efforts to increase the number of outlets who provide Fairtrade options locally and to encourage more and more people to choose Fairtrade,” he said. “We plan to continue this good work into the future.”

Fairtrade provides better prices, decent working conditions, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. To find Fairtrade products in local shops, look out for the distinctive Fairtrade Mark appearing on all Fairtrade products or check if your local café or restaurant displays a We stock Fairtrade sticker or poster. Fairtrade Fortnight takes place over February 25 to March 10. For further information, visit www.



airy cooperative Dale Farm has partnered with Wheyhey, creator of naturally sugar-free, high-protein ice cream and other treats, to act as its exclusive ice-cream distributor in Ireland. Dale Farm will use its extensive ice-cream distribution network across convenience and supermarket stores in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to bring Wheyhey to more consumers in the marketplace. Wheyhey was created in 2013 with the vision to combine great taste with real health benefits and now includes a range of naturally sugar-free, high-inprotein treats. It has secured significant product listings within leading UK and European grocers, and gained several prestigious industry accolades including Start-Up


of the Year at the High Potential Business Awards 2016, a Trailblazer brand award from Food Vision & Unilever Foundry and

From left, Damien Kennedy, Wheyhey and Nigel Cairns, Dale Farm.

securing a place on the Silicon Valleybased Thrive accelerator programme for emerging food tech businesses. “Not only are Wheyhey ice creams excellent quality and extremely innovative, they answer a very real need

for consumers seeking low sugar, high protein snack choices – a trend that continues to grow year on year,” said Nigel Cairns, Dale Farm Ice Cream commercial director. Damien Kennedy, co-founder of Wheyhey, said: “Having a distribution partner in Ireland with an established retail network such as Dale Farm will help bring our products into more consumers’ hands and, we believe, will help deliver valuable growth in the Irish market.” Wheyhey has attracted attention from the likes of international supermodel David Gandy, who quickly came on board as an investor and entrepreneur Richard Branson who, in recognition of the brand’s potential, invited the company to become Virgin Media Pioneers.


SUMMER HEATWAVE BOOSTS 2018 PERFORMANCE SAVVY CONSUMERS ARE CUTTING BACK ON SUGAR AND USE OF PLASTICS, SAYS MINTEL IN ITS REPORT, SOFT DRINKS - IRELAND - NOVEMBER 2018, WHILE INCREASINGLY SEEKING SOFT DRINKS PERCEIVED AS HEALTHIER many cases, have added functionality in the form of added vitamins or minerals. Concerns for animal welfare and the environment are also very prevalent.


hile plastic and sugar are among key concerns for consumers of soft drinks, sales continue to increase, up 3.2% year on year to an all-Ireland value of €1,951.8m in 2018. Off-trade sales account for €1,049m of the total, with both sectors benefiting from the soft drinks levy driving up prices, while the summer heatwave of 2018 helped to boost overall growth in the market. While carbonated drinks account for approximately 56% of the total market value in 2018, continued concerns with sugar content may see sales migrate to other sectors as consumers become more health-conscious. The water sector similarly in the near future could experience a sales decline as consumers become warier of buying water in single-use bottles, and instead opt for tap water, says Mintel. MARKET FACTORS Some 64% of NI consumers, when asked how the introduction of the sugar levy in April 2018 had impacted their buying behaviour for carbonated soft drinks, noted it has not changed their purchasing habits. Consumers aged 55-plus are least likely to have modified their buying habits, but this age group are also least inclined to have bought carbonated soft drinks overall.

On the other hand, 22% of Irish consumers noted that they have cut back on sugary drinks, with those aged 16-34 in both NI and RoI more likely to have done so. Soft drink prices in the UK/NI grew by 9.7% between September 2017 and 2018 (ONS), driven by both the sugar levy and the overall growth trend in consumer products. Continued inflation of this magnitude may see NI consumers more likely to switch to own-label soft drinks, with 42% of NI and 41% of RoI consumers noting that they are drinking fewer branded soft drinks in the 12 months to September 2018. Half of NI consumers in September 2018 believe their personal situation will decline as Brexit fears continue to grow, highlighting declining overall sentiment within the region. COMPANIES AND INNOVATIONS Soft drinks brands operating in Ireland have successfully transitioned from offering carbonated soft drinks to having a portfolio including juice and water as primary beverages. However, whilst juice remains the focus for brands, Mintel GNPD shows that flavoured water is the fastest growing sub-category. Consumers are in the mood for healthier drinks which are more nutritious, lighter in calories and, in

THE CONSUMER Bottled water remains the most used soft drink In both regions.. Some 30% of RoI versus 21% of NI consumers have drunk smoothies in the last month, while a third of Irish consumers also noted drinking 100% fruit or vegetable juice. NI consumers are stronger users of squash and cordials compared to RoI consumers. NI consumers are just as likely to have used diet colas as standard (ie full sugar colas), with consumers in younger age groups the strongest users of carbonates overall. Carbonated water usage has likely benefited from the increase in gin usage among Irish consumers – with a quarter of Irish consumers drinking gin with a mixer in October 2017 (Toluna). Half of all Irish consumers noted they are drinking more tap water in 2018, pointing to the need for more eco-friendly packaging solutions within the soft drinks market. Avoiding sugar continues to be a trend, with 45% of NI consumers noting that they are more likely to avoid sugary carbonated drinks in 2018 compared to 2017. More than four in 10 Irish consumers noted they felt manufacturers should do more to introduce biodegradable or otherwise more eco-friendly packaging to soft drinks. Desire for a money-back bottle return scheme is high among Irish soft drink users – further pointing to Irish consumers becoming uneasy with their single-use plastic usage. Looking ahead, continued price inflation and the sugar levy will help to drive continued growth within the market, despite diminishing consumer sentiment within NI. 19




ith the energy category experiencing continued success in the market, Monster, the meanest energy drink on the planet, is primed to capture this incremental growth for retailers. Monster was the fastest-growing energy brand in Northern Ireland in 2018, experiencing 41.8% value growth as the brand grew across all flavours. Two new innovations were introduced to the range which contributed to this success. Monster Mixxd Punch and Monster Ultra Violet were the leaders of innovation in the energy category in

2018. Ultra Violet in particular capitalised on the continued growth of the zero sugar energy segment, and the Ultra range experienced 83.6% value growth in Northern Ireland in 2018. 2019 will be no different when it comes to Monster’s rate of innovation, with two exciting new flavours launched across Northern Ireland in January 2019 following their unprecedented success across Europe. Monster Mango Loco is a heavenly blend of exotic juices certain to attract even the most stubborn spirit – in an eye catching designed can inspired by Day of


the Dead, the Mexican holiday. This new flavour with real fruit juices of mango, guava and pineapple will deliver the full blend of Monster energy the brand’s fans have come to expect. Pipeline Punch is the second new flavour for 2019. Named after the world’s most infamous wave, this lightly carbonated punch is the perfect blend of tropical flavours Hawaii has to offer – with real fruit juice of passionfruit, orange and guava. Just like the wave it is named after, it is expected to deliver a huge buzz and is destined to become a legend on the shores of Northern Ireland! Peter Hughes, energy marketing manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: “The growth of the energy segment offers a massive opportunity for retailers, and Monster is primed to capture that growth with its expanding range of flavours. “The pace of innovation across the Monster range has proven to be a successful strategy, evident by the growth of the new Ultra variants, LH44 and the Monster Hydro range in recent years. “Both Monster Mango Loco and Pipeline Punch were an immediate hit across Europe last year, and I’m confident that the two new variants will prove just as popular across Northern Ireland in 2019.” For more Information on the new variants, contact the Coca-Cola HBC’s Customer Care Centre on 028 9262 0520. [1]


Nielsen NI Total Value Sales 2018



From left, Francie McCann; Shirley Wilson; Petre Sandru, country manager, Coca-Cola Ireland; Matthieu Seguin, general manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland; and Guinness World Records official adjudicator Sofia Greenacre.


total of 463 Coca-Cola employees achieved a Guinness World Records title for the most cans crushed by a group simultaneously at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on January 17. The employees, consisting of both CocaCola Hellenic Bottling Company and CocaCola Ireland, were in Belfast for their annual company conference.

An estimated 1,500 cans were crushed under foot by the employees in 30 seconds, achieving a record that had never previously been set in the world. The cans will be returned to the company’s factory in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn before being sent to be recycled into new cans. “I’m thrilled to be in Belfast and succeed in our attempt to break a Guinness World

Records title,” said Matthieu Seguin, general manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland. “Our employees have come together to demonstrate what true team spirit can achieve. It also marks the start of our 80th year operating in Northern Ireland, and with this great team of people, I’m confident our best days are yet to come.”




ho doesn’t have some memory of The Maine Man calling at their door with all those flavours of fizzy drinks in glass bottles? It seemed to be a part of growing up as a kid. This year marks an important milestone in the history of Maine Soft Drinks. It will be 70 years since Mr J.C Harkness decided to break away from his family’s business Braid to form Maine Mineral Water Company. The early decades brought challenges including pre-Second World War rationing and competition from the many independent soft drinks companies around the province at that time, Youngs, MacLennans, Clanrye and Ross Cochran to name but a few. Through ‘The Troubles’, Maine continued to thrive in the 1970s and 1980s while other local soft drinks companies disappeared. During this time, the company expanded into the retail sector, creating the Smak and Vitazade brands which have become well established and are stocked in many local stores. The home delivery side of the business remains an important part of the company, with many homes throughout Northern Ireland receiving a regular weekly delivery. Quite recently Maine have also expanded their delivery service to areas across the north of England, including Liverpool, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and towns in North Yorkshire.


The retail side of the business continues to grow; the Maine 1 Litre & 500ml ranges are listed in Tesco and Asda. These Maine ranges can also be found in many SPAR, Centra, Supervalu and Today’s stores throughout Northern Ireland. As part of this 70th anniversary year, Maine have introduced retro style wooden crate stands for their

range of favourite flavours in 1 Litres. This is available as a package deal with an initial order. The initial response from shop owners has been positive.They have an opportunity to stock an extensive selection of Maine flavours without taking up existing shelf space. Many locallyowned stores have taken up this offer

ADVERTORIAL Refresh flavoured still water, which is a sugar-free range with natural flavourings. The Vitazade range will also be given a revamp with a newly designed label. Shop displays are also in the pipeline for Vitazade. Maine Soft Drinks continues to be a

and so far it has been well received by consumers. Many traditional fish & chip shops and butcher’s have also successfully come on board. The most popular flavours are Pineapple, Cloudy Lime and Raspberry. However, there is a demand for American Cream Soda, Splice, Sarsaparilla and Brown Lemonade. There are sugar-free versions of the two best sellers, Zero Pineapple & Zero Cloudy Lime; not forgetting Kali Water, which some say is great for easing indigestion and others swear by it for aiding restless legs at night time. Additional plans to coincide with the celebrations include shop displays for the

‘Anyone with a memory of Maine, has their own favourite flavour’

O’Connor’s Butchers in Downpatrick

family run business now into its third generation, with ‘The Maine Factory’ bottling plant and distribution still based in Ballymoney, Co Antrim. Maine Soft Drinks can be found on Facebook with over 17,000 likes and continues to grow. To contact the company regarding supply, please email Although The Maine Man has reached the retirement age of 70, he has no intentions of setting down his bottles just yet.




remier League and Coca-Cola have announced a new three-anda-half-year partnership, starting in January 2019. It is the first sponsorship Coca-Cola will activate across multiple brands within its portfolio, showcasing a range of drinks including sparkling soft drinks, water and fruit-based drinks, with low and no-sugar options. The partnership will see CocaCola work with the World’s most competitive and compelling football competition to engage and excite fans up and down the country, giving them an opportunity to get even closer to the Premier League and connect with the game they love. Football is a huge passion point across both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the Premier League is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together. Fans will reach fever-pitch at home or in a bar, with family, friends or work colleagues, and Coca-Cola will play its part to make it a memorable one for all. The company will look to enhance the fan experience and reach 83% of the nation through a €1m media investment plan, including TV, OOH advertising, digital and experiential including a national Premier League trophy tour which kicks off around the country from April. To kick off and drive awareness of the exciting partnership across Ireland and Northern Ireland, Coca-Cola will drive recruitment and engagement through its Be the 12th on-pack promotion. The national promotion which runs from February 25 to April 7 across select impulse and take-home packs of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Original Taste will give football fans the chance to win thousands of Premier League


merchandise instantly. Entrants also have a chance to Be the 12th player and win the ultimate fan upgrade. The prize includes a VIP club experience with a club legend, tickets to every home game of their favourite club and signed merchandise. World-class international and local Premier League players will also feature on pack to build hype and appeal to the hard core Premier League fans. Matt Tisdall, sales director, CocaCola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: “Coca-Cola has a long and rich history supporting football at all levels, from the grassroots to the world stage. The Premier League is one of the most diverse leagues in the world and unites people with a shared passion for football. At CocaCola HBC, we’re looking forward to bringing people closer to the action, through our portfolio of drinks in outlets nationwide, and with moneycan’t-buy experiences for fans.” Petre Sandru, country manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, added: “CocaCola is delighted to activate our sponsorship of the Premier League through our Be the 12th campaign. This on-pack promotion will be supported by a major new TV campaign that gets to the heart of what it is to be a supporter of the Premier League.” The Coca-Cola Company has been a long-term supporter of football, inspiring and uniting people all over the world and creating memorable experiences for players and fans. It has helped millions of supporters get closer to the action through partnerships, and is also a long-term partner of FIFA World Cup.



Belfast Giants forwards Jonathan Boxill (left) and Lewis Hook (right) join Derrick Murphy from Britvic to launch Energise Sport’s new sponsorship of the team. Energise Sport will provide essential hydration ice-side for the team at the SSE Arena and at away games for the remainder of the 2018/19 season and beyond.


nergise Sport, one of Ireland’s biggest sports drinks has launched a new partnership with local ice hockey team, Belfast Giants. The sponsorship will see the drink, alongside its sister brand, Ballygowan, fuel the Elite League team during training and games both on home ice, and away. Launched in 2003, Energise Sport was formulated by the Britvic Technical Team supported by renowned Irish physiologist, Dr Liam Hennessy, former director of Fitness with the IRFU and fitness coach to golfer Padraig Harrington. Made up of an optimum balance of water, carbohydrates and electrolytes to hydrate faster than water alone, Energise Sport has undergone clinical trials which prove it facilitates fast hydration and increases endurance during exercise. Derrick Murphy, regional development & sales manager at Britvic, commented: “Energise Sport has a long history of supporting sport around Ireland at all levels and is ideally suited to support the needs of serious athletes across all disciplines. “Belfast Giants are a team which launched around the same time as Energise Sport, and their passion and excitement for their sport has gripped Northern Ireland. Having recently been named Team of the Year at a recent sports awards ceremony, it’s clear that we share the same passion for fuelling winning performances.” 26

Mark Brooks, commercial manager of the Belfast Giants,said: “It’s a pleasure to have Energise Sport partnering with the Giants this season. It is thanks to support from those who understand the level of athleticism needed for high intensity sports such as ice hockey, that we as a team are able to achieve what we do. “Energise Sport will sit proudly with our team at the SSE Arena as well as at our away games for the remainder of the

2018/19 season.” Energise Sport will be giving consumers the chance to win cases of the sports drink, as well as tickets and boxes to home Giants games at the SSE, as well as signed jerseys by the whole team. Murphy continued: “As part of our roll out here in Northern Ireland, we’ll be working with other local companies including Henderson Group and their EUROSPAR and VIVOXTRA brands. “We’re bringing their social media followers a ‘caption this’ photograph competition with Giants mascot, Finn McCool giving them a chance to win a box and hospitality for a Giants home game. “We’re also working with Q Radio to create a Giant Street Party in Belfast’s City Centre for shoppers to enjoy some fun and games with the opportunity to win more prizes.” Energise Sport is currently the third largest and fastest-growing sports drink brand in Northern Ireland with a 13% share of the market. It is available in two flavours, Orange and Mixed Fruit, and is the only sports drink 100% produced in Ireland. For more details and for a chance to win the above prizes, visit, EUROSPAR NI and VIVOXTRA NI on Facebook, and listen out on Q Radio from January 28.



From left, Simon Gray, founder and managing director of Boost Energy, and Gareth Hardy, managing director of Hardy Sales and Marketing.


oost has announced details of a record year in Northern Ireland with unit sales of 32.9 million during 2018, an increase of almost two million units year on year. Boost is the best-selling soft drink in Northern Ireland’s convenience sector, occupying the top three positions in the independent soft drink sales charts*, and sales show no sign of slowing down with both volumes and revenue increasing by more than 6% across all its variations. Driving the company’s best ever year here has been the growth of Boost Energy Red Berry, a flavour which at present is exclusively available in Northern Ireland. Sales of Red Berry cans grew by 57% last year, it’s now the company’s second best-selling stock keeping unit (SKU) behind Boost Energy Original with plans in place to introduce the flavour into the GB market this year. Boost Energy Sugar Free, which featured a limited-edition can design by local graphic design student Heather Peddle from Lisburn, also enjoyed significant growth with sales rising by 9% 28

compared to 2017. “Last year we celebrated our 15th birthday in the Northern Ireland market in fine style with lots of activity through the year so it’s only fitting that 2018 should also turn out to be our best ever year here,” said Simon Gray, founder and managing director of Boost Energy. “I must say I’m running out of words to describe the amazing success we’ve enjoyed here since we first launched in 2003 but we are thrilled at how the people of Northern Ireland, and the independent retail trade, have taken Boost to their hearts. “We could never have predicted though that we would be shifting this number of units in one year and that we would have the top three selling SKUs in the province. “Northern Ireland is such an important market for us as we only sell to local independent retailers, not the big supermarket chains, and our We Love Local ethos is all about supporting and championing these retailers who have helped make Boost the success it is today.

Looking at our performance during 2018, this strategy has definitely been the right one. “I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us thus far and we look forward to working with all of our wholesale and retail partners to grow the brand further in 2019. “We have lots planned, including a dedicated NI charity partnership, new range extensions and exciting trade and consumer promotions, so watch this space.” 2018 got off to a good start for Boost when the company signed an exclusive five-year distribution deal with Co Antrim-based company Hardy Sales and Marketing (HSMNI) which provides warehousing, distribution, van sales and key account management across all the major symbol, cash & carry and delivered wholesalers within the NI convenience and food service sector. “We’ve been working with Boost since day one,” said Gareth Hardy, managing director, HSMNI, “so to see the brand grow every year and enjoy the success that it has is nothing short of phenomenal. “It really is great news - not just for us but for wholesalers, retailers and consumers who all love the brand.” Boost Energy was established in 2001 after founder and MD Simon Gray saw the opportunity to offer consumers a great quality energy drink at a fraction of the price of other brands at that time. Two years later in 2003, Boost Energy was launched in Northern Ireland and now the company owns the top three selling soft drinks within the independent convenience sector which covers more than 1,100 independent retail stores, excluding the large multinational supermarket chains. Boost is available in various pack formats across seven core Energy flavours, as well as limited editions and Sports and Protein drinks. * Source: IRI Marketplace Data Symbols and Independents 52 weeks unit sales to 12th August 2018



Matt Downes, head of format development for Iceland UK, is pictured with Iceland employees Jade Craig, Nicole Killyleagh and Ciara McIlwee.


celand has launched the first in-store reverse vending machine in Northern Ireland, in line with its efforts to reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. The UK’s leading frozen food specialist will be trialling the machine for six months at its Belfast Park Centre store, to further understand consumer appetite for the scheme. The installation follows the supermarket’s results announcement of

its UK-first trial of in-store reverse vending machines, which saw more than 310,000 plastic bottles recycled over a six-month period. In November alone, a daily average of 2,583 bottles were recycled across four sites, with an average of £250 in coupons refunded per day. Reverse vending machines reward individuals for recycling, by providing money or vouchers in return for empty containers. Iceland’s reverse vending machine accepts any plastic beverage bottle purchased in Iceland and repays customers with a 10p voucher to be used in store for each bottle recycled. The installations came in support of the UK government’s proposed Deposit Return Scheme in England, and were launched after Iceland became the first retailer to commit to removing plastic packaging from all own label products by 2023. With the objective of understanding consumer perceptions and potential engagement levels, as well as industry and operational insights, the results of the trial have been shared with UK’s Department for Environment, Food

and Rural Affairs to further support the consultation. After initial trials in England, Scotland and Wales, Iceland is extending the trial for a further six months to collect additional data on the positive environmental impact of a potential national roll-out. “The overwhelming consumer support we have received in response to our reverse vending machine trial clearly demonstrates consumer appetite for improved in-store recycling, and deposit return schemes,” said Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland. “We have expanded our trial to Northern Ireland to ensure our trial is as robust as possible and is representative of customers from across all of the UK. “The findings will inform future Iceland initiatives and planned roll-outs of recycling schemes, empowering retailers and consumers to tackle the scourge of plastics, head on.” The results of the Northern Ireland trial will be shared with local councils and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.


ith the spring fast approaching, botanically-brewed drinks maker Fentimans is adding Apple and Blackberry, a new soft drink combining two quintessentially-British fruits, to its award-winning range of craft beverages. The recent boom in craft drinks has created a new discerning consumer, expecting differentiated flavour experiences and premium quality options above and beyond ordinary carbonated drinks. Fentimans says Apple & Blackberry meets the needs of these growing trends, with its complex depth of flavour achieved by using the botanical brewing method behind all Fentimans drinks. “There is nothing more quintessentially British than red apples and juicy ripe blackberries in late summer,” said Andrew Jackson, marketing director, Fentimans. “Our latest flavour innovation has been rigorously tested, and we are confident that this latest addition combines the superior flavour experience consumers are seeking, with a unique British twist.” Apple & Blackberry will be launched in the iconic 275ml bottle, plus the 750ml sharing format in the grocery channel. The launch will be supported with an outdoor, digital marketing and experiential campaign, including a British Garden Games Activation.





new accolade has been added, and the scope of an existing category broadened, as the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards enter their 31st year. While digital elements of marketing will be considered across all awards, the 2019 round will see the addition of a Best Digital Marketing award judged exclusively on social media and online activity. And a revamp of the Green Retailer of the Year accolade sees it rebranded as Best Green Marketing, opening up the competitive field to the wider grocery sector. Returning in 2019, meanwhile, after its successful debut last year is the Lorraine Hall Young Marketeer Award, recognising up-and-coming stars in memory of the co-founder of Forest Feast. Totalling 10 categories, the 2019 awards will also include the established categories of Best Marketing Campaign, Best Brand, Best In-Store Consumer Sales Promotion, Best New Product Launch/ Relaunch, Best CSR Initiative/Charity Partnership, Best Artisan Campaign and Best Export Marketing. The Awards are an opportunity for companies operating in the Northern Ireland grocery sector to shine a light on their successes and achievements. An integral part of the annual GroceryAid Ulster Grocers’ Ball, the awards will take place at the Culloden Estate & Spa on May 10, 2019. Entry is open to all grocery stakeholders from producers, suppliers, wholesalers and independent retailers to retail groups. And the diverse range of award categories allows both well-established and up-and-coming companies to enjoy valuable media exposure and branding at the Grocers’ Ball, and across the print copies, websites and social media of Ulster Grocer magazine and its sister titles at Independent News & Media. Widely regarded as the highest marketing accolade Northern Ireland grocery stakeholders can achieve, the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards are recognised as a mark of professionalism, raising awareness for companies shortlisted, highly commended and winning each category.


AWARDS CATEGORIES......................................... BEST DIGITAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN With the digital element of marketing assuming growing importance, a new accolade has been added to the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards 2019 – Best Digital Marketing Campaign. While digital is well established as part of the media mix considered by judges across the awards categories, this new award will exclusively focus on online marketing activity, looking at campaigns which have successfully utilised tools such as social media, email, influencer engagement, content marketing and apps. Open to all grocery sector stakeholders (and both in-house and agency marketing teams), judges will consider results achieved in relation to the size of the business with the onus on applicants to demonstrate a clear link between their digital campaign and any subsequent boost in sales. BEST GREEN MARKETING Previously limited to one sector, our former Green Retailer of the Year award has this year been rebranded to broaden its scope, opening the category to all grocery industry stakeholders from food and drinks producers and other service providers to retailers. Entries should quantify green gains they have made, such as reductions in water, energy or their overall carbon footprint, highlighting the eco measures behind those gains from local sourcing to LED lighting, solar panels and any other energy and waste reduction systems. And, of equal importance, companies should demonstrate how they have communicated their green programmes and gains to clients and consumers. LORRAINE HALL YOUNG MARKETEER AWARD The Lorraine Hall Young Marketeer Award will seek to recognise passion and drive among the up-and-coming marketing stars of the future; those who show they

have already, in their short careers, made significant contributions to the industry. The judges will look for evidence of a candidate’s success across a variety of marketing challenges, their on-going desire to learn and innovate, and their understanding of the ever-growing array of marketing tools and channels at their disposal. BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN Best Marketing Campaign could potentially involve a corporate, brand or project campaign with food and drinks suppliers, grocery wholesalers and retailers all eligible to enter. While the subject matter of the campaign may be any aspect of grocery retailing, the marketing campaign should include some or all of the following elements - press, TV, radio, outdoor, in-store POS/ merchandising, PR, website, leaflet, digital and SMS activity. BEST BRAND Among the most prestigious and tightlyfought categories, Best Brand welcomes entries outlining marketing activity aimed at building a brand of any size in the Northern Ireland grocery market. The brand could be, but is not limited to, food and drink, and equally could be a retail brand from independent stores through to multiple and discount retailers. Judges will examine the effectiveness of any brand-building activity in relation to PR, advertising and marketing campaigns, brand visibility and customer loyalty, and take into account the results achieved in relation to the size of the business. BEST IN-STORE CONSUMER SALES PROMOTION Best In-Store Consumer Sales Promotion could be a standalone promotion by a retailer or supplier. Equally, it could potentially involve a joint promotion between two companies; for example, two manufacturers/brand owners running a cross-promotion on complementary products or a retail group and a manufacturer



BEST NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH/ RELAUNCH For Best New Product Launch/Relaunch, entries are invited from brand owners outlining their marketing activity to launch any new grocery product (not limited to, but including, food and drink) into the marketplace. This may include any of the following: press, TV, radio, outdoor, in-store POS/merchandising, PR, website, leaflet, digital and SMS activity. Preexisting products which have been relaunched with new branding, and a complementary marketing strategy, are also eligible for entry. Please note: this category covers the marketing of new or relaunched products, rather than the new product development process. BEST CSR INITIATIVE/CHARITY PARTNERSHIP Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative or Charity Partnership is focused on the strength and commitment shown by retailers, producers, wholesalers and suppliers to CSR/ charity initiatives and partnerships rather than the marketing of such activity. Open to any business operating in the retail grocery sector, from small producers and independent retailers through to large suppliers and multiple retailers, this category will also be judged on tangible results from the partnerships. BEST ARTISAN CAMPAIGN Introduced to recognise a buoyant category in the local grocery sector, Best Artisan Campaign recognises that small producers often have limited marketing resources at their disposal but can make clever use of them. This category is open to producers, manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers marketing artisan food and drink, and entries should outline any press, TV, radio, outdoor, in-store POS/ merchandising, PR, website, leaflet, digital and SMS activity. BEST EXPORT MARKETING Exports are a vital part of the business mix for Northern Ireland producers, and this award recognises efforts to successfully market, gain access and launch local products into international markets (from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain to the other side of the world). Any local food, drink or other grocery product which has successfully gained access to new markets, secured new customers in existing markets or boosted existing export contracts is eligible for entry.

OFFERING A PLATFORM TO REACH NORTHERN IRELAND’S GROCERY INDUSTRY W ith the GroceryAid Ulster Grocers’ Ball widely recognised as the industry event of the year, sponsors of the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards are offered an unparalleled opportunity to showcase their companies and brands. Local agri-food and retail leaders and decision-makers attend the fundraising ball in force, and the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards represent one of the highlights of the gala evening with all eyes on the stage as the highly commended entries and winners are announced for each category. As a sponsor, you will receive the following package of benefits: PRE-EVENT • Full page advertisement in Ulster Grocer • Inclusion in photograph and mention of brand in launch article in Ulster Grocer • Inclusion in photograph and mention of brand in launch article in Belfast Telegraph • Inclusion of your brand in entry-driver and ticket sales print ads in Ulster Grocer • Inclusion of your brand in entry-driver print ads in Belfast Telegraph • A branded post on our social platforms driving entries to your category • Promotion on the Ulster Business website • Logo included within editorial piece AT THE EVENT • Two seats at GroceryAid Ulster Grocers’ Ball, Culloden Estate and Spa, May 10 • Main stage screen and side panels branded with your logo • Representative to present award at the event • Logo on shortlist card at each place-setting • Promotional material to be placed in hampers for guests at event • Photographic opportunities • Social media coverage POST-EVENT Editorial coverage in the Ulster Grocer special event feature including: • Branding • A message from the sponsor • Event photographs Mention in editorial coverage in Belfast Telegraph/Ulster Business To find out more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ulster Grocer Manager Chris Keenan on 028 9026 4267 or

BOOKINGS OPEN FOR GROCERYAID ULSTER GROCERS’ BALL The GroceryAid Ulster Grocers’ Ball will be held at the Culloden Estate & Spa on Friday, May 10. To book seats or tables at the Ball, during which the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards 2019 will be held, email GroceryAid NI Committee representative Jim McAlea at


working together on a promotion. Entries are welcome involving both exclusive singlestore promotions and activity running across a group of stores.





our of Northern Ireland’s most innovative food producers were featured on The Farmers’ Country Showdown, a BBC1 series celebrating inspirational farming families and rural events, last month. Filmed at the Irish Game & Fine Food Festival in Shanes Castle last June, the featured producers include Corndale Farm, Limavady; Forthill Farm, Tandragee; Harnett’s Oils, Waringstown; and Ballyriff Buffalo, Magherafelt. Corndale Farm has developed its own

air-dried Spanish style Chorizo, Chilli Chorizo and Salami. Established in 2012 by Alastair Crown, the business produces top-quality pork from his herd of rarebreed, free-range pigs. Kenny and Jennifer Gracey of Forthill Farm produce quality free-range pork and free-range beef from traditional breeds; namely Belted Galloway and Longhorn Cattle, Gloucestershire Old Spots and British Saddleback pigs. They firmly believe that the older traditional breeds produce meat of superior quality and

LAKELAND LOOKS TO MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA FOR GROWTH D airy giant Lakeland has said over 140 customers from the Middle East and Asia have visited its facilities in Northern Ireland in recent months. And in a New Year message to its farmers, the Cavan-based company said that is confident of more success in the markets over the year. The business announced a merger with Monaghan-based Lacpatrick last year, which will give it a total farmer base of around 1,300 in Northern Ireland. Lakeland facilities in Northern Ireland include a processing site in Newtownards. “Lakeland Dairies is continuing to work competitively and successfully to underpin the future of dairying throughout Northern Ireland,” said Michael Hanley, chief executive. “The investments made over the past decade have enhanced our capability and our efficiency where we are adding value to milk across the 240 different dairy products that we are exporting to over 80 countries worldwide.” Despite the ongoing uncertainty posed by Brexit, Hanley said that markets and dairying conditions tend to be volatile on a cyclical basis. He added that trading conditions remained broadly positive during the year with a softening of the markets apparent in recent months due to increased global dairy production. The chief executive said that the Lacpatrick merger will serve to strengthen its UK market access in the context of Brexit. 32

assert that ‘food from the farm’ is the new way to reclaim traditional standards. The family behind Harnett’s Oils has been associated with the Waring Estate Farm since 1656. Today oilseed rape and hemp grown on the farm is cold-pressed, then bottled on site. Ballyriff Buffalo has a 50-strong herd on the O’Briens’ farm, situated in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. Containing half the fat of ordinary meat and 40-60% lower in cholesterol, buffalo meat also provides twice as much calcium and protein as beef. “Our Game Fairs have always attracted massive publicity, and I am delighted that even more of our local exhibitors are getting the national recognition and exposure they so richly deserve,” said Albert Titterington, director of the Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival. “Last year, the Shanes Castle event generated huge interest through coverage by BBC NI’s Home Ground and our partnership forged with the national Delicious magazine reinforced the developing ‘foodie’ element of the Fair, giving Northern Irish artisan exhibitors an important new showcase – and the business-boosting profile they so richly deserve.”


lster Farmers’ Union Dairy Chairman William Irvine has called for local processors to recognise strengthening markets for dairy products and to pay a price reflecting what is happening in commodity markets. “The time has come for processors to step up to the mark when setting base prices,” said Irvine. “The New Zealand Global Dairy Trade auction has delivered its fourth consecutive price increase. We have also seen an increase in the ZuivelNL/Dutch Dairy Board index. The market has strengthened so there is no reason why farmers here shouldn’t see that reflected in their milk cheque.” Market sentiments have moved up with the big reduction in stocks in EU skimmed milk powder intervention stores. The European Commission sold over 80,000 tonnes at the first trading event of 2019, leaving stocks of around 22,000 tonnes, in contrast with a peak of over 370,000 tonnes. “With this overhang on the market gone, this should improve the price for fresh SMP,” said Irvine. However: “Seasonal bonuses, which have nothing to do with market sentiment, are seemingly being used to hide true and justified increases in base prices,” he said.


WHITE’S CELEBRATES ITS 2018 GROWER OF THE YEAR From left, Sean Kane, agri supply chain coordinator, White’s, and Connor Sheeran, White’s 2018 Grower of the Year.


athfriland farmer Connor Sheeran has been awarded White’s Grower of the Year at the oat manufacturer’s recent Professional Growers’ meeting. Sheeran has been growing oats for White’s for five years and is among a group of local farmers working with White’s on testing new varieties that will continue to raise the benchmark in producing high quality oats. In launching the award, White’s acknowledges the dedication and passion of its growers and the commitment that goes into oat research at farm level in pursuit of the very best varieties of oats

for its award-winning oat cereals. The criteria for the judging are based around five key agronomy areas - among those mill quality, which measures hullability, kernel content and bushel weight - but it was Sheeran’s commitment and enthusiasm to technical development around oat research and trials that particularly stood out for White’s when selecting its Grower of the Year. “Increasingly porridge is now a product of choice for consumers and recognition of the many associated health benefits of oats is sustaining the increase in demand,” said James Mathers, general manager

FUTURE TRADING RELATIONSHIPS AMONG HOT TOPICS AT OXFORD FARMING CONFERENCE B rexit, future trading relationships between the UK, the EU and other global markets and scientific developments in agriculture were among topics of discussion at last month’s Oxford Farming Conference (OFC). Alongside 500 delegates attending the international conference for farming and agri-business, hosted annually at Oxford University, were Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland Chief Executive Ian Stevenson and Chairman Gerard McGivern. “A wide range of topics were discussed during the conference including the politics of agriculture and food, the pre and post Brexit circumstance, scientific developments driving change and value in the industry and the importance of effective communication between the agri-food industry, its customers and the general public,” said Stevenson. “Future relationships between the UK and EU

and how trade would operate with other countries around the world were key issues of the debate.” Stevenson said the speech given by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary of State Michael Gove was notable in terms of farm policy ideas and the potential role of new technologies in advancing a sustainable agri food sector in the UK. “Michael Gove’s speech put the latest farm policy ideas into perspective,” he said. “There was a lot of discussion around the need for supporting agriculture’s key role in feeding our society and delivering public goods. It was also highlighted during his speech that leaving the EU without an agreement in place would create considerable turbulence and would risk undermining the benefits that could be derived from a new agricultural policy in the UK.”

of White’s Oats. “What we are seeing in the market place is that, with more retail outlets such as coffee shops offering porridge as an all-day option, it has reawakened interest and attracted a new generation of consumer. “Product innovation in other areas such as oat milk, savoury oats and oat cosmetics is also driving demand for high quality oats to be grown and the climate in Ireland is well suited for their production.” Supporting its agronomic research and advice to its growers, White’s, in collaboration with oat breeders, recently carried out agronomy trials at the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute in Crossnacreevy. “The results of these trials, and those in coming years will underpin the agronomic advice we give to all our growers where our aim among others is to further enhance the quality of Irish grown oats,” said Mathers.



lster Farmers’ Union Beef and Lamb Chairman Sam Chesney has warned that beef prices must strengthen, as farmers finishing cattle continue to suffer heavy losses. He says prices for R-3 steer have slumped from 359p/kg this time last year to 345p/kg now – stressing that neither of these prices offers a sound foundation for a viable beef industry. “Producers have faced downward price pressure in recent months,” he said. “This is having a negative impact on farm incomes at a time of year when costs are high. Winter finishing rations have increased by 24%, from around £185 to £230/per tonne, and straw is costing up to £180 a tonne, a 30% increase. Farmers simply cannot afford to live with beef prices below the cost of production.” He urged all producers to negotiate hard for better prices, and to resist all pressure to accept quotes currently on offer from processors. “Farmers need to know their own cost of production to make the changes they can deliver within the farm gate,” said Chesney. “They need to book cattle in advance and ensure they shop around for the best deal. The live market seems strong now, so farmers must consider all possible options when selling stock.” Chesney added that, in uncertain political and economic times, farmers and processors need to work together to ensure the industry is profitable. 33




amelot is launching Set For Life, a new draw-based game from The National Lottery offering a top prize of £10,000 a month for 30 years. Tickets for the new game will cost £1.50 per line and will go on sale on March 15, with draws held every Monday and Thursday from March 18. Players will pick five main numbers from 1 to 47, and one ‘Life Ball’ from 1 to 10, and have the chance to win fixed prizes ranging from the top prize of £10,000 a month for 30 years to £5 for matching just two main numbers. Set For Life launches as The National Lottery enters its 25th birthday year, and

Lottery winners Mary Hamilton (Belfast), Anne Canavan (Derry), Stephen Inglis (Bangor), Lauren McLarnon (Newtownabbey) and Ross Hearst (Armagh), who have won £18m between them in the past four years, visited the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in December to host a party for the children.


Winner Cara Neeson is pictured with Sue-Ellen Gorman, Creightons; David Neill, Kerry Foods; Alan Gilliland, Creightons; and her mum Sheena (right).

ne lucky EUROSPAR shopper has been given the ultimate antidote to the January Blues, winning £2,000 of holiday vouchers through its Elf on the Shop Shelf campaign, sponsored by Golden Cow. Cara Neeson scooped the coveted prize after spotting the elf hiding on the shop shelf of EUROSPAR Creightons of Finaghy and completing a competition entry form in store. The competition took place across Northern Ireland and saw participating EUROSPAR and ViVOXTRA supermarkets hide the popular children’s character, Elf on the Shelf, in a different location each day throughout November and December. Children were then tasked

Camelot will be raising awareness of the new game through advertising, in-store signs, posters and marketing materials. The National Lottery operator has also welcomed a strong performance from its retail channel in 2018, with a number of big milestones achieved following £20m investment and the rollout of several new programmes and initiatives. Since its introduction in April 2018, a total of £615,000 in prizes has been awarded to 18,000 retailers through the AllStars rewards programme, and more big prizes will be on offer to retail partners throughout 2019. with spotting the elf, as it hid on the shop shelf, and entered by uploading an image online or entering in store. In addition to the overall winner, two runners-up - Clare Summer from Newtownards and Sharon Davis from Warrenpoint - have each won a top of the range bicycle sponsored by Golden Cow. “After a successful trial in one of our EUROSPAR stores in Kilkeel in 2017, we were confident that the Elf on the Shop Shelf campaign would prove popular with shoppers across the full network of EUROSPAR stores in Northern Ireland,” said Conor Toland, marketing manager for Henderson Retail. “We received over 21,000 combined in-store and online entries, increased average footfall in our stores and grew our online presence significantly.”

BRINGING CHRISTMAS TOGETHER CAMPAIGN BRANDED result for this activity was a 25% increase A SUCCESS FOR COSTCUTTER in ingredient sales*** in participating


ostcutter Supermarket Group’s Bringing Christmas Together campaign has been its most successful to date, with the social campaign seeing online reach increase by 27%*, driving a 53% increase in traffic to CSG’s website**, according to the Group. The campaign offered shoppers seasonal tips and solutions, exclusively created recipes and a Mondelezsponsored festive online game. Launched with record entry levels, as well as high value prizes, 1,700 winners scooped


Cadbury Chocolate Mousse snowmen, which had to be redeemed in store helping drive footfall across the Group. The campaign also saw top influencers create recipes using key selected ingredients, all designed to reach new audiences, inspire shoppers and drive footfall. Content created by top baking blogger, Jane’s Patisserie, who created a chocolate cheesecake using Cadbury’s Heroes, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and McVities Milk Chocolate Digestives, was also trialled as POS in select stores. The

stores, as well as a combined reach of nearly one million across all channels. “Bringing Christmas Together was our largest festive campaign to date and our retailers really got into the Christmas spirit to create a fantastic shopping experience for our customers,” said Sean Russell, director of Marketing at Costcutter Supermarkets Group. *compared to the previous 8 weeks ** year-on-year increase for the same period ***compared to the previous 6 weeks


KPMG FORECASTS A BUSY YEAR AHEAD FOR DEALS MARKET DESPITE POLITICAL HEADWINDS A gri-business and food have been identified as among areas of business expected to attract mergers and acquisition activity in 2019. The Northern Ireland mergers and acquisition market is expected to see a busy year, although sentiment has been dampened slightly by the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the continued stalemate at Stormont, according to the KPMG M&A Outlook for 2019. The report, which surveys M&A executives and advisors, found that three quarters of respondents expected activity here to be at or above 2018 levels as the region maintains its appeal as an attractive deal location. However, 80% of respondents to the

survey expressed concern that Brexit will have a negative or neutral effect on deal activity in the coming year. The lack of Executive at Stormont, which has just recorded its second anniversary, is also said to be weighing on sentiment. “In the five years that we have been conducting this survey, 2019 is undoubtedly one of the most difficult to predict,” said Russell Smyth, partner, Corporate Finance at KPMG. “Notwithstanding this, the Northern Ireland M&A market is relatively optimistic for the coming year, despite the headwinds posed by Brexit and the continued stalemate at Stormont. “A carefully designed approach to M&A, now more than ever, forms a key plank in the strategic foundations of



iverRidge has been praised at the annual Sustainable Ireland Awards for its commitment to waste management and environmental excellence for a third year in succession. The award, sponsored by Ulster Shedders, recognises excellence within From left, Adrian Logan, compere of the evening; Brett Ross, CEO of RiverRidge; the resource and and Elliot Martin, managing director of Ulster Shredders. waste management industry, through best practice and innovation across a range of commercial and public sectors. “This resonates back to our core business model and is an outstanding testament to our company-wide pledge to creating clean and reusable alternatives for all disregarded waste,” said Brett Ross, CEO of RiverRidge. “Through the use of the most advanced technology, RiverRidge has successfully diverted a substantial amount of waste from landfill, giving it a new lease of life, whether in a recycled form or as a waste-derived fuel and this award win reflects the success of that process to date. “It is our mission to create a cleaner, sustainable future Northern Ireland. Attaining the award title of Waste Management and Environmental Excellence reaffirms our ability to handle waste legally, responsibly and transparently to all of our customers for the benefit of our wider community and future generations.” Initially acquired in 2011, RiverRidge has undergone substantial investment over the past number of years which has transformed it from a small skip hire and landfill business to the fully-integrated waste recovery operation it is today. Now servicing a number of Northern Ireland’s local authorities and over 4,000 commercial and industrial businesses, the company has developed Northern Ireland’s first large scale waste-to-energy facility and the UK’s first fluidised bed RDF drier. 36

Russell Smyth, partner, Corporate Finance at KPMG

business.” KPMG’s M&A Outlook 2019 is based on research conducted in December 2018 amongst many leading M&A executives and advisors in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.



ew research from workplace experts, Acas, has revealed over half of workers (53%) believe that getting the right people with the right skills will be the biggest issue faced by their workplace in the year ahead. Acas commissioned YouGov to find out what UK employees identified as the most important workplace issues in the year ahead. The other two top issues identified were technological change (36%) and productivity (36%). “This could be attributed to uncertainty around our relationship with the EU at the moment or general concerns around skills shortages,” said Susan Clews, chief executive of Acas. “Technological change is also on people’s minds and we have found that, if it is not managed well, then it can cause stress and impact workplace relations. “It is unsurprising that productivity continues to be a top concern in UK workplaces. We believe a well-managed and innovative workplace that encourages employee engagement can help improve the UK’s low productivity and make the most of people’s skills.” Acas has done a lot of work on the UK’s productivity puzzle with advice and a diagnostic tool for organisations. For more information, please visit:





olac has appointed Una Hickey as sales manager for Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. A key member of the Volac Ireland team for 10 years, she lives in Ballyhea, Co Cork with her husband Dinny Daly and their two children Kathlyn and Patrick. Hickey studied Applied Biology and Analytical Science, followed by various nutrition and strategic management courses organised through Volac. Recently, she obtained a Diploma in Ruminant Nutrition from Harper Adams University in Shropshire. She has over 20 years’ experience in Una Hickey.


elen Skeffington has been appointed payroll manager at Mount Charles. An associate of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, she has worked in payroll for over 13 years. During her career, Helen has worked within the recruitment, voluntary and retail sectors, providing payroll support to operations. She has also worked in finance, managing budgets and reporting.

the agricultural industry, having sold the renowned Golden Maverick brand with Kerry Co-Op, before its acquisition by Volac in 2008. “I am really looking forward to growing Volac’s business further as we have a great team committed to providing Volac products and service that help farmers make their businesses more sustainable,” said Hickey. “Volac place a huge emphasis on strong working relationships with farmers, merchants and co-ops and I am keen to build on these relationships – many of which my predecessor, Pat Cahill, successfully initiated and developed over the years.”


To see your product featured in Shelf Life, contact Chris Keenan at or Tel: 028 9026 4267



P Snacks is reaffirming its commitment to the under-100 calories portfolio, which currently consists of 37 products including POM-BEAR, Skips and Space Raiders, by launching creative campaigns for two of its flagship brands, Hula Hoops Puft and popchips. As a part of its Taste for Good commitment, KP Snacks has been working on improving the health credentials of its products for a number years. Since 2005, KP Snacks has reduced saturated fat by 80% across its core brands and will increase the number of products with 100 kcal or fewer per pack by +50% by 2025. With 34% of shoppers looking for healthy snacking products and 49%

saying they would choose crisps or savoury snacks over a sugary option, KP Snacks is responding to this rising demand with a £2m marketing push. Coming in at under 100 calories per serving, popchips and Hula Hoops Puft are said to provide more better-for-you snacking options without compromising on big flavour. “We want to raise consumer awareness of the healthier snacking choices that are available to them but without compromising on flavour,” said Kevin McNair, marketing director at KP Snacks.

“At KP Snacks, we want to empower crisp lovers to enjoy snacking with a colourful and positive attitude, and without the need to use guilt-focused language. Hula Hoops Puft and popchips form part of our extensive under 100 calories portfolio that offers retailers a range of products and formats that can be activated across all areas of the store.”


new grab-and-go granola/ yogurt snack pack has been launched into the European market by Irish company Truly Yours and is available in four flavour combinations, each featuring 50g granola with 100ml yogurt. The flavours are fruity granola with strawberry; natural granola with peach and passionfruit; nutty granola with cherry; and seed granola with raspberry. Truly Yours’ Joe O Connor describes the easy-to-eat product as “a perfect solution to a simple healthy breakfast and convenient all-


day snack”. The innovative design features recyclable packaging which doubles up as the dish from which to eat the contents and incorporates a non-plastic spoon. “The Bord Bia Consumer Lifestyle Programme highlights how our busy lives just get busier,” he said. “With that has come a demand for on-the-go food, but food that is better for us is now more the norm in order to give us the right energy. We believe our granola/yoghurt combo fills that gap in the market.”





Q&A TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF I have just turned half a century and am married to Judith. We have two teenagers keeping me on my toes: Emma, 18 and James, 16. I am originally from Rostrevor and now living in Warrenpoint for the last 23 years. I have worked for O’Reilly’s Wholesale for 21 years, commencing in my role of sales executive with the company in 1998 and progressing to business development manager in 2006. I was promoted to take on the role of sales manager in 2016 and, whilst I find this brings many challenges, I really get a buzz from this role. I enjoy most sports though watching now rather than participating in! I am a member of Warrenpoint Golf Club and try to play most Saturdays but, with an 18 handicap, there’s a lot of room for improvement. WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE? I start work at 8am unless a sales meeting is scheduled earlier. The minute I get to the office, the nature of our business demands me to have a full involvement in many parts of the company. This can be anything from management meetings, customers contacting me regarding product range prices, delivery days, new customers coming on board and general day today enquiries. We have a professional and experienced sales and telesales team who are always striving to assist our customers in any way possible. I am very much involved in promoting great customer care. This has led to O’Reilly’s becoming such a successful business and allowing us to celebrate our diamond anniversary - 60 years this year. I am in constant communication with the rest of our management team, always trying to improve all aspects of our business and always with the customer’s needs in mind.


such great satisfaction from seeing a customer’s business grow and develop and knowing that we have helped them achieve greater product range and therefore better opportunities for profit growth.

received in the community. He was a quiet man but anything he said made a lot of sense. Also, anybody who can speak more than one language - I tried Spanish and have to admit it got the better of me...

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? My father said: “You have two ears and one mouth, you should listen twice as much as you speak.”

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE? Our very own Mourne Mountains; I’m blessed to live at the foot of them and enjoy jogging up there on Sunday mornings.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE? Mistakes being made due to complacency.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? Although I hold the position of sales manager now, I would say being promoted to BDM in 2006 was the highlight. A few months into this role, I could see the benefit of what the role would bring to both the retailer and to the company. I have held the position of sales manager since 2016 and helping develop my team has brought great rewards personally as they are a very professional team to work with.

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE? I took part in our community strictly come dancing and found out what a really a bad dancer I was when I actually thought I was good.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? This is an easy one to answer – I get

WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? My father, who passed away nine years ago, was a real family man who was well


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/ AMBITIONS? To push forward the O’Reilly’s brand and our plan to increase the number of our very own symbol store brand, One2Shop. Would also love to run a marathon.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT? Got to be a good steak, though in this day and age and with the carbon footprint, maybe I shouldn’t be saying that. HOW DO YOU RELAX? I am a member of Carlingford Lough Currach Club and enjoy rowing on the Lough whenever possible, followed by the obligatory pint to discuss the day’s row. My wife Judith works for an airline which brings the benefits of travelling to some wonderful remote destinations which we have enjoyed over the years as a family. I have a very close family circle and we enjoy spending as much time together as possible.



Tel: 028 9267 3316

Profile for Helen Wright

Ulster Grocer February 2019  

Ulster Grocer February 2019

Ulster Grocer February 2019  

Ulster Grocer February 2019