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Over 40 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry







Over 40 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry

Finance Minister announces new Targeted Rate Relief


inance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has unveiled proposals for a shake-up of the rates system, following a campaign by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and Hospitality Ulster seeking alleviation of the rates burden faced by many small shops and venues.

reads. ‘We are delighted that the Finance Minister has adopted the majority of our proposals for a new targeted Rate Relief scheme for retail and hospitality. We are encouraged to hear that our main proposal of £25k NAV (Net Annual Value) and below for qualifying businesses has been Pictured are Colin Neill included. (Hospitality Ulster), ‘These proposals are not just supporting the Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Glyn growth in retail and hospitality but also, given Roberts (NIIRTA). our members’ commitment to sourcing local produce, they are a real boost for the local supply chain and for the agri-food sectors among others. In addition, we believe this plan is good for town and city centre regeneration and for growing our tourism potential. ‘Both our organisations called upon the Minister to consider radical reform of business rates - this is exactly what he has outlined and we commend him for this bold plan.’ The Minister’s proposal, A Rates Rethink: Spurring Economic Growth includes £22m investment in retail and hospitality businesses, the Following the November 22 announcement, Glyn introduction of two pilot Business Empowerment Roberts of NIIRTA and Colin Neill of Hospitality Zones and removal of the domestic rates cap. Ulster issued a joint statement warmly welcoming the “I want to make sure that the rates system Minister’s proposal. encourages regeneration, investment and ‘The new proposed targeted Rate Relief Scheme entrepreneurship, while at the same time is based upon joint proposals put forward by discourages dereliction and decline,” Hospitality Ulster and NIIRTA earlier this year,’ it said Ó Muilleoir.





Robinson’s of Ballymena Nisa Extra

New Graham Norton wine range





Henderson Food Machinery profile

Festive produce with a local flavour




Volume 51, Number 11 December 2016 Editor: Alyson Magee E: Contributors: Michele Shirlow, Jason Winstanley, Bernie Mullen, Brian McCalden Sales Manager: Mark Beckett E: Senior Accounts Manager: Michelle Kearney E: Art Editor: Stuart Gray Production Manager: Stuart Gray

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Season’s greetings to the trade I t has been a busy year for the grocery trade, with many retailers championing local suppliers alongside Year of Food & Drink and investing in innovative new formats in response to increasing competition and evolving consumer demand. From all at Ulster Grocer, we wish you buoyant Christmas trading and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017.

Alyson Magee

Alyson Magee and Mark Beckett

Belfast announced as host venue for World Butchers’ Challenge 2018


utchery Excellence Ireland’s bid to host the World Butchers’ Challenge in 2018 has been successful, marking the first time in the competition’s history that the event will travel to Ireland, with Belfast announced as the host city. The World Butchers’ Challenge will be taking place at IFEX 2018 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast (March 20-22) with a Gala awards event planned for Titanic Belfast, and the event is expected to Pictured are, from left, Stephen McAufield, McAufield Family Butchers with Rhonda Montgomery, chief executive of Butchery Excellence Ireland and bid attract 250 butchers from around the globe with a delegation of up to co-ordinator and chef Sean Owens. 1,000 extra visitors. “At the World Butchers’ Challenge 2018 Belfast The World Butchers’ Challenge it’s expected that over 10 global teams will take part (WBC) was created as a platform for butchers from in the 2018 event, including teams from Ireland, across the world to compete and showcase the France, Germany, Spain, England, Scotland, butchery skills and creative uses of the beef, lamb Australia and New Zealand. and pork products from their respective countries. Owens said: “We couldn’t be happier that we The current world champions, France, will be a have secured this event for Belfast. This is an hard act to follow and the competition will be a incredible opportunity for our Butchery Excellence great celebration of World Butchery Skills. Ireland members to demonstrate their skills and to Having previously taken place in New Zealand, shout about the quality of our produce on a world Australia and Great Britain, the winning bid to export stage. secure the event for 2018 came from Team Ireland “In addition to the competitions, our bid and was submitted by Rhonda Montgomery, includes a five-day research trip across Ireland for CEO of Butchery Excellence Ireland and chef the global delegation. This is our opportunity to Sean Owens in conjunction with IFEX and show showcase the world-class food tourism offering organiser Fresh Montgomery. that we’re producing across the Island, coupled “Following a recent research trip to the World with visits to our incredible world accredited Butchers’ Challenge in Australia, I was confident venues, from the Giants Causeway to the Guinness that Butchery Excellence Ireland could help to Storehouse and the Wild Atlantic Way. For our deliver the first-ever World Butchers’ Challenge guests, we’re hoping that they will take home a real for Ireland and history is being made, with Belfast sense of Ireland, and help to further establish our announced as the host venue for 2018,” said food island reputation globally.” Montgomery.


Tesco highlights £5.7bn contribution to NI economy over 20 years A

n Economic Impact Report was published by Tesco Northern Ireland last month, reporting a contribution totalling £5.7bn to the local economy since it began trading 20 years ago. Directly contributing £3bn in value added, this accounts for 10% of the retail sector’s overall contribution. It also generated at least £1.5bn in wages in that period as well as making capital investments of £650m building new stores and upgrading existing stores, according to the retailer. The Report, while analysing the direct contributions made in terms of value added (GVA), also looks at the indirect effects of Tesco Northern Ireland purchases from local suppliers, along with the induced effects created by the spending generated by Tesco employees. It estimates that for every £100 added in value by Tesco, a further £90 is added through employee and supplier spending. Tesco purchases from local businesses are estimated at £5.5bn worth of local food and drink over its 20 years in the Province.

“NI has been the test bed for many Tesco initiatives – including setting up the first regional buying team.” Working with 90 suppliers and 6,000 farmers, there are 1,200 local product lines on the shelves in Tesco stores across Northern Ireland and Tesco has stated a commitment to increasing this. The indirect effect of these purchases is calculated conservatively, according to the retailer, but suggests that as Northern Ireland’s second largest private sector employer, with 9,600 employees, a further 6,000 indirect jobs have also been supported since it opened its doors here.

As market leader in the grocer sector in Northern Ireland, the company attributes its success over the past two decades to a passionate commitment to helping and serving customers, including maintaining an unrivalled portfolio of local food and drink products. “As the first grocery retailer to arrive in Northern Ireland after the Troubles, we could never have predicted how important a region it would be for the business,” said Brendan Guidera, store director Tesco Northern Ireland. “Northern Ireland has been the test bed for many Tesco initiatives –including setting up the business’ first regional buying team. “Listening to our customers’ needs back in 1996 and since then always trying to help make shopping better, putting the customer at the heart of everything we do, and continuing to grow our local product portfolio has resulted in an evergrowing footfall to store, resulting in the need for more stores, more staff and more investment – which ultimately has led us to the very significant added value figure estimated in this Report.”

Dunbia’s pork business was sold to Cranswick for £18m BY JOHN MULGREW


orthern Ireland meat giant Dunbia sold its pork sector to British firm Cranswick for £18m, it has emerged. Cranswick bought the firm’s Ballymena arm, which employs around 360 staff and processes almost 8,000 pigs a week. The firm’s latest accounts show the business was acquired for £16.9m in cash, with a further £1.25m payable under certain conditions. Cranswick said the acquisition Jim Dobson enhances its “pig processing capability and establishes a significant presence in Northern Ireland”. “The fair values on acquisition are still being assessed due to the recentness of the transaction and will be finalised within 12 months of the acquisition date,” it said. The Belfast Telegraph revealed last year that a teaser document had been prepared for businesses interested in snapping up the Co Tyroneheadquartered company. Dunbia started life as a red meat processor, primarily beef, but has now grown its reach across the wider meat industry. The company was co-founded by brothers Jim and Jack Dobson and the latter will continue in a consultancy role with Cranswick. 5


Asda and Dale Farm ‘Farmers Milk’ offers cash boost for NI dairy farmers

Pictured are, from left, Jason Hempton, commercial director – Branded Products at Dale Farm; Johnston Morrow, Dale Farm dairy farmer; and Michael McCallion, Asda’s head of Local Sourcing for Northern Ireland.


sda is the first supermarket in Northern Ireland to sell Dale Farm Farmers’ Milk, giving its customers the option to pay a little extra in support of local dairy farmers. Available in each of Asda’s 16 NI stores from November 21, Dale Farm Farmers’ Milk will retail at £1.12, which is 25 pence above the price

for a standard 2 litres. The additional 25p will be returned to Dale Farm and shared equally among the company’s 1,300 farmer owners. The initiative was developed after research revealed that 63% of consumers said they would willingly pay more for dairy products if they were assured the extra money goes back to farmers. The Northern Ireland launch follows on from the success of a similar scheme in GB where Asda has partnered with Arla, the farmer-owned dairy co-operative, to supply the ‘give a little back’ milk which has been well received by customers. The new Dale Farm-branded 2 litre milk will be available in both whole and semi-skimmed varieties. “The launch of Dale Farm’s ‘Farmers Milk’ is a great boost to our dairy farmers, especially during winter months when they have additional costs,” said Stephen Cameron, Group commercial director, Dale Farm. Research shows that where food comes from, and who benefits, influences how people fill their

NWTC launches new food development centre N

orth West Regional College has officially opened the region’s first centre of excellence for food development and technology. Foodovation, under the direction of food development centre manager Irish chef Neven Maguire is pictured with Brian McDermott, Food Development Centre manager at Brian McDermott, North West Regional College. is a new state-of-theart research and development centre which offers a sanctuary to develop excellence in food innovation, science and technology. Award-winning chef Neven Maguire was the special guest for the official opening of the innovative centre, which is based in the Northland Road building of the North West Regional College’s Strand Road campus. Fully equipped with the most advanced facilities and latest technology, the Foodovation centre contains a food science lab, development and production kitchens, kitchen studio photography and videography, meeting rooms, a taste testing room and barista coffee training school. As well as encouraging and nurturing small- to medium-sized food businesses, Foodovation will provide industry specialists with the technical advice to ensure their route to market is successful and sustainable. Foodovation is a one-stop-shop for current and aspiring industry producers, and has already celebrated success in the form of stock maker Carol Banham who has made the centre her new workplace (see p24), and Limavady pig farmer Alastair Crown from Corndale farm. “North West Regional College prides itself on strong delivery and supporting the food sector,” said McDermott. “We have enjoyed huge success so far and look forward to building on this and growing. “This is first venue in the North West that offers a complete end-to-end new product development model for food producers in the region.” Foodovation has been developed in partnership with the Department for the Economy and Connected.


shopping basket. Consumers are willing to pay more if they know it goes directly to the farmers that produce it. “At Dale Farm, our farmers don’t just milk the cows, they own the company. We are grateful to Asda for their continued support and for providing an opportunity for shoppers to give something back to Dale Farm dairy farmers.” Michael McCallion, Asda’s head of Local Sourcing for Northern Ireland, said: “More than ever our customers want to understand where their food comes from and how it is produced. Through our support of initiatives such as Open Farm Weekend and Balmoral Show, we’ve raised awareness of the role Asda plays in the food chain and communicated important messages about food provenance. “Dale Farm Farmers’ Milk is another example of effective collaboration, helping to communicate the ‘farm-gate to plate’ message in a meaningful way and offering our customers the chance to play their part in supporting the agricultural community.”

Top IoD award for Northern Irish bakery boss Brian McErlain


rian McErlain, managing director of Genesis Crafty in Magherafelt, was awarded Family Business Director of the Year at the recent Institute of Directors Awards in London. The awards, which recognise individuals who have displayed the highest standards of leadership in business, public and third sectors, took place in Lancaster London Hotel. Genesis Crafty, originally known as McErlain’s Bakery, is owned and run by six McErlain brothers, including Brian, all of them qualified bakers. The business was established by their parents. The business is a major supplier of breads, morning goods and cakes to virtually all the main multiple retailers across the UK and Ireland. “This is a great accolade for the business and the family, and I thoroughly enjoyed the awards ceremony with the other successful Northern Irish directors,” said McErlain. “I was delighted to take away the Family Business Director of the Year award, particularly against tough competition from throughout the UK. I think the award highlights our outstanding work ethic and dedicated staff in the company.”


Lidl supermarket workers awarded higher minimum hourly wage BY JOHN MULGREW

Lidl Anderstown


erman supermarket giant Lidl will pay its Northern Ireland workers a higher voluntary minimum wage of at least £8.45 an hour. The chain, which employs around 800 staff across 38 stores here, will introduce the increase in March across the UK. The move will benefit around a fifth of its workforce who now earn the current minimum of £8.25. The £8.45 is a voluntary minimum hourly wage, higher than the Government’s own so-called

‘living wage’. It’s the first supermarket here to introduce the minimum. Retail expert Donald McFetridge said the ‘big four’ supermarkets here may come under pressure to follow suit. “No doubt, other retailers in the food and other sectors will eventually find themselves in the position of having to follow in Lidl’s footsteps in an industry where low pay has been one of its main characteristics,” he said.

“It is vitally important to reward retail staff in what has become an increasingly demanding workplace with advances in technology and constant change requiring a skilled workforce.” According to the retailer, the commitment to paying the Living Wage is part of a number of initiatives Lidl has introduced in recent years to build a better workplace for all its employees and share with the entire team the success the retailer is enjoying as it continues to grow market share in Northern Ireland. “Key to our success in Lidl Northern Ireland is the dedication shown by our team across all levels of our organisation and we are delighted to be able to introduce the increased living wage of £8.45 to entry level employees,” said Maeve McCleane, HR director, Lidl Northern Ireland. “Having the best paid team in the sector is something we pride ourselves on. While this move will require an investment on our part we also want to reassure our customers that it will not lead to price increases. Customers can rest assured that they will still get the highest quality products at better value than our competitors.”

Contract People in the top three agencies in the UK


he Field Marketing & Brand Experience (FMBE) Awards took place on Thursday 20th October in London’s Troxy theatre and Contract People were in attendance after being nominated across seven different categories. We are delighted to announce that Contract People took away prizes from three of these categories, including bronze in the highly prestigious UK Agency of the Year. Award details are: * Silver Award for Most Effective Tactical Campaign (Marketing/PoS Led) for Hop House 13 * Silver Award for Most Effective Product Launch for Hop House 13 * Bronze Award for Agency of the Year 2016 These awards were fantastic recognition for all the hard work that went into the launch of Hop House 13, both in the office and on the Field. The Agency of the Year award is also testament to the hard work of everybody within the business, and when you take into consideration that Contract People’s only UK base is currently in Northern Ireland, this shows the true scale of the achievement. Now in its 12th year, the FMBE Awards celebrates the best that the industry has to offer and, with massive competition from major UK and Irish providers, to be shortlisted for these awards alone is a fantastic

FMBE Awards 2016 achievement. Contract People are delighted to be walking away with multiple awards for the third year running. Commenting on the Awards, our Director of Client Services, Russell Johnston said: “We are absolutely delighted to come away with awards again this year. The highlight is bringing back the bronze award for Agency of the Year 2016, with Contract People being in the top three field marketing agencies across the UK and Ireland. With strong competition, these awards are a fantastic way to show the hard work and results being generated by our staff on behalf of our clients.” 7


Robinson’s of Ballymena Nisa Extra Robinson’s of Ballymena on the Co Antrim town’s Cullybackey Road opens long hours to serve both the local community and the considerable levels of passing business, as Brian McCalden reports.

Gary Olphert, store manager


rom 6.30am to 11pm Monday to Friday and from 7.30am on Saturdays and from 8.30am to 10pm Sundays, Store Manager Gary Olphert supervises a busy and fast-developing business with a total of five tills, including supermarket-style aisles. “The business in its current format opened in 2006 - but it has been there for a quite a while,” says Gary. “Our old premises were on the same site from 1985 and underwent redevelopment in the 1990s to become one of the first of the ‘new brand’, Costcutter sites in Northern Ireland. “Then in 2006 we had the third onsite development for Robinsons with the shop increasing from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet of retail space, which remains our current size.” At that time, employment went from around 15 to 55 staff, both full- and part-time and the store remained under the Costcutter banner and expanded into an increased offering to include Texaco fuel; two ATMs; a hot deli, sandwich bar; butchery; off licence; Lottery; ice-cream; Paypoint; heating oil (at pump); and 50 shopping car parking spaces. The store is now trading as a Nisa Extra and, today, also offers a range of own-brand, take-home food (Robinson’s) and a butchery partnership with K&G McAtamneys, as well as the addition of a 38 Espresso unique blend coffee station, DPD Parcel pick up point and the Maine Bakery. “In 2015 we made what was at the time a difficult decision in leaving the Costcutter group after 23 years,” says Gary. “Considering all our options, we decided that going to Nisa was the best 8

commercial decision available. “This was like flicking a switch in regards to problem solving. Everything improved overnight and has continued to do so over the last 18-20 months. “It’s fair to say now that we feel that we probably should have changed to the Nisa brand 10 years ago after our last redevelopment.” Petrol and diesel are important elements to trade. In the summer of 2016, the manager oversaw a refit of the forecourt to incorporate new Texaco

imaging and three new Tokheim multihose pumps. “This is our third contractual term with Texaco, a relationship we think works well for both us and our customers,” says Gary. Current trading conditions are not always rosy though. “It is fair to say that Ballymena faces economic uncertainty like never before,” he says. “JTI has all but closed and Michelin is winding down operations over the next two years. “Losing the two major manufacturing employers will come at a heavy cost for retailers in the Borough and all of us are apprehensive of what lies ahead. “However people still need to shop and, in listening to the general public, we identified that now, more so than at any time since the recession kicked in, people are not only more price and promotion conscious but they prefer to shop little and more often. “With Tesco and Sainsbury’s within a mile or two away, we need to fight for this regular daily shopper - those who want to spend £20/30 and not £100-plus on food shopping. “Customers are telling us daily that ‘we tick all the boxes’ for a daily family shop and this is key to our successful trading so far in 2016. “If we get this right, we can encourage customer loyalty and repeat business. We can and do cater for the trolley shopper as well but footfall has certainly increased with this newer outlook towards buy less, more often.” Gary says the store services the north end of Ballymena, incorporating trade from the villages of Cullybackey, Galgorm and Ahoghill. “However during promotional drives that help us identify our catchment area, we find that we have customers dotted all over the Ballymena Borough,” he says. “We could probably put some of this down to families working in the town and the passing traffic in and out to the various schools. “There are definitely spikes in trade during school run times although, on the other hand, weekend trade is also booming. That said, I don’t think you can target any one section of the community, there has to be something for everyone.” In the future, there are developments taking shape behind the current shop. “It is no secret that we own the properties directly behind us. We recently started to demolish the old crèche and, whilst it is very early days, we do have ambitious plans for the future. “We have drawn up plans to extend the shop from 6,000 to 10,000 square feet. Obviously this is subject to planning permission and other factors such as the outcome of Retail Impact Report on


Ballymena town centre. “We have to prove that we have a unique offering and that there is justification for the project. This would be our fourth redevelopment of the site that would create a further estimated 30 jobs, from part time to full time and to include middle management. “We stock 12-13,000 ambient and chill products. This is a grocery range to filter business away from the multiples and we therefore have strong promotions to match with support from McAtamney Butchery and a full take home range unique to Robinson’s and to McAtamneys Greenvale Street. “Our off sales review in 2016 saw the introduction of 200 new lines to compete in the IPA sector and to offer a premium range of wines, spirits and gins. “We felt we needed the off sales part of the business to have its own identity as opposed to just complementing the supermarket. “This helped off sales trade increase by 15%. Whilst Nisa had the promotional aspect covered we identified there was a market for premium products including local gins, award-winning whisky and quality wines.” With Paypoint – from the same perspective – people will buy less, but do it more often as many customers purchase their energy requirements this way now too. “Paypoint has become an invaluable draw into the shop,” says Gary. The Maine Bakery offers over 50 years of local baking heritage in the Ballymena area: “We are one

of only five retail shops in Northern Ireland where you can buy their traditional bakery products and we also pride ourselves on our deli and food to go good home style cooking. “Everything from hot plate breakfast to lunches, and fresh sandwiches and salads are on offer all year. We will again be offering what has previously been a very successful Christmas dinner too. “We get involved with schools in the Ballymena district and offer support. We have sponsorship arrangements with quite a few schools in the Borough. Robinson’s name can be seen on sponsored walks, sports days and all sorts of community events around schools and in our catchment area. “We also fund and sponsor the local community football team. Carniny Youth and Amateur FC

who do a wonderful cross community job with children and young adults. “Nisa’s Making a Difference locally fund is another scheme we take advantage off to help support random community projects where we feel our help is valued,” he says. Next year will be a busy year for Robinson’s with the work behind the scenes to expand our premises and in the day-to-day operations of the current shop. “During this time, we hope to get out and meet other independent retailers who have evolved their businesses over the last few years. “It’s always inspiring to get out into other stores to draw inspiration from managers and retailers sharing our passion. “Social media is also quickly becoming a valuable promotional tool so we hope to have a better interactive online presence in the future. “I honestly think that social media controlled properly can be as valuable as the traditional marketing methods we have used in the past. “We hope that our plans come to fruition in line with customer expectation and a big part of 2017 will be spent ensuring we have the right people around us and the tools for the job that lies ahead.”



Omagh retailer is top of the convenience shops A

retailer in Omagh has been voted top of the convenience shops in a prestigious national competition. Peter McBride of McBrides was crowned Convenience Retailer of the Year at the 2016 NFRN Awards which took place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London last month. McBride beat off competition from four other retailers from across the UK to win the title. More than 400 guests including newspaper and magazine publishers, politicians, suppliers and independent retailers were in the audience to see him receive his award. The Convenience Retailer of the Year Award Peter McBride accepts his award from Steve Fox, managing recognises an independent retailer who has director of wholesaler Booker, sponsor of the category. Also pictured is radio presenter Nick Ferrari who hosted the embraced additional categories into their store Awards evening. and grown their business as a result. McBride was recognised for his constant endeavours to offer customers at his 11 Spar stores the best shopping experience they can have, together with real value for money. All his shops support local suppliers and, following a £260m investment in McBrides Foodhall in Scaffog, the store offers the latest in fresh food and grocery, with a butchery deli and post office which means that shoppers don’t need to go anywhere else. The NFRN Awards are presented annually to recognise excellence in news and convenience retailing, rewarding those who have made an outstanding contribution to the sector. The NFRN is the voice of the independent retailer and has 15,000 members including newsagents and convenience store operators.

NFRN expresses deep dismay as Irish News cuts retail terms again


ews retailers in Northern Ireland have reacted with horror and dismay at the Irish News’ move to increase its cover price while reducing the retail margin by 2%, according to NFRN. Following its first increase for two years, the newspaper now sells for 90p but the margin that its stockists receive has fallen again this time from 20% to under 18%. Prior to October 2014, retailers received a margin of 22%. NFRN said it was seeking an urgent meeting with the newspaper’s Managing Director Dominic Fitzpatrick and will be taking independent retailers along to quiz him on this unpalatable move and to ask why they should continue to sell the product. The NFRN understands that a leading multiple in Northern Ireland has already delisted the title and removed copies from their shelves.

NIIRTA calls for MLAs to reboot their economic policy


he Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) called for a ‘reboot’ of economic policy in the new Programme for Government and for the Executive to produce a stimulus package to boost the local economy as Brexit approaches, during a presentation to the Assembly Economy Committee last month. “Central to the next Executive Programme is the need to boost our productivity as a region and be more ambitious for growing the NI Economy,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive of NIIRTA. “Rather than accepting a growth rate of 1% or 2%, could we achieve 10% growth over the next five years? “The 12.5% corporation tax rate is no silver bullet and, without real investment in skills and infrastructure, its real potential will be lost. “In light of Brexit and the rapidly-changing world economy, we need to see a ‘reboot’ of economic policy in the new Programme toward a stronger focus on skills, infrastructure and radical reform of business rates. In the short term, we need to see the Executive bring forward a stimulus package which boosts both business and the local economy. Business and trade organisations need to be part of the PFG discussions and not just consultees, to ensure that we have a real and genuine partnership to ensure real delivery and a PFG which has a 10% economic growth target as its number one priority. “With a competitive tax regime, modernised infrastructure and investment in skills, there is no reason why Northern Ireland could not be the best place in the UK and Ireland to locate or start a business. All we need is the ambition. “The road ahead will be a huge challenge as we adjust to the huge impact of a future outside the EU. The focus now is on how we move forward and create the stability and confidence all sectors of our economy need.”



Spar Carrowdore sales assistant bags top award in London T

racie Horner of SPAR Carrowdore was revealed as the winner of the Sales Assistant of the Year Awards 2016 during a grand ceremony at The Dorchester London last month. Having attended the awards as the winner of the Forecourt category, Horner blew the judges away with her personal charm and commitment to customer service. Her contribution to the store’s business success, and capacity to embrace change with enthusiasm set her apart from the four other finalists in the competition. The judges were particularly impressed with Horner as she personally sets herself the challenge each day of making sure every customer she serves leaves the shop with a smile on their face. After being awarded the grand prize of £1,000

during the lunch event hosted by trade magazine Convenience Store, Horner said: “I couldn’t believe it when they called out my name. All the other finalists were such lovely girls and all were very worthy winners. “This has been just a wonderful event, from the lovely people, to all the attention to detail in looking after me; the whole experience has been wonderful, and to win this award is just the icing on the cake.” Alan Cardwell, Henderson Retail area manager, said: “We are thrilled that Tracie has won Sales Assistant of the Year 2016 – this is the second year that one of our staff has picked up this prestigious accolade; last year’s winner was Jennifer Kerr from EUROSPAR Saintfield Road and it is testament

Nisa’s charity donates over £1m in 2016


ollowing a second consecutive record month of donations, Nisa’s charity, Making a Difference Locally, has now donated over £1m to good causes in 2016. Over the last 10 months a total of 1,355 donations have been made to 964 causes throughout the UK, including charities, schools, sports clubs and more. The millionth pound was donated by the Nisa Local on Moston Street in Birches Head, to support St. Matthew’s Church with their World War One community window project. “We are delighted to have supported almost 1,000 good causes over the last 10 months alone, as these donations will have a positive impact on so many communities across the UK,” said Kate Carroll, Making a Difference Locally charity manager. “It is incredibly rewarding to see so many Nisa members engaging with their communities through Making a Difference Locally and we expect to see many more retailers supporting local causes over the festive period.” Making a Difference Locally raises funds in independently owned convenience stores that are members of the Nisa family, through the sale of items from Nisa’s own-label Heritage range and a selection of branded products which carry charitable donations from the suppliers. The charity has been proudly supporting good causes since 2008 and to date has donated over £8m in total. There are currently over 2,300 stores participating in the Making a Difference Locally initiative. For more information about the charity visit www. or community/make-a-difference-locally.

Tracie Horner (second left) receives her award.

to the dedication and service of our SPAR staff across our stores in Northern Ireland. A massive well done to Tracie and congratulations to SPAR Carrowdore.”

Titanic Quarter convenience retailer grows with further £700,000 investment T

itanic Quarter has signed a deal with its existing convenience retailer to open a new SPAR store, doubling the size of their existing operations in the ARC Retail, Titanic Quarter. The bespoke new convenience store will create an additional 25 jobs in the area and reflects the continued growth of Titanic Quarter. The 7,000-square-foot SPAR will be a new generation store, offering the most innovative service to its customers. From July 2017, customers will be able to enjoy a wide range of everyday essentials to the best of local produce, as well as an off sales and Post Office. A sit-in area will help make the store a hub for everyone in Titanic Quarter, be it a quick Barista Bar treat or a Daily Deli lunch. The ARC Retail is prominently located in the heart of Titanic Quarter on the waterfront below the ARC Apartments which are home to over 1,000 residents. It is adjacent to the SSE Arena, Citigroup, Belfast Met and Europe’s top tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast. Annual visitor numbers alone to Titanic Quarter and the SSE Arena are 3.5 million. The new SPAR store will be owned and operated by Andy Davis and Graham Johnston, who are the proprietors of the existing convenience store. “Since opening in 2013 our business in Titanic Quarter has continually grown and this is our fourth expansion in three years. We are investing a further £700,000 in our new SPAR, doubling the workforce in Titanic Quarter to 50 employees,” said Davis. Johnston said: “There is a diverse mix of customers in Titanic Quarter which is unlike anything else in Northern Ireland. Our core customer base is made up of people who work in Titanic Quarter and the surrounding area, students, tourists, concert and event goers and residents. That means that the new SPAR store will be much more than a normal convenience store – the range of produce we stock will be more varied and it will also be a space for people to relax and socialise in.” Patrick Doody, sales & marketing director of Henderson Wholesale, said: “The new generation SPAR store opening in Titanic Quarter is a major £700,000 investment by retailers Andy Davis and Graham Johnston in conjunction with the Henderson Group. “The new store will reflect SPAR’s latest thinking in store design, fit out and range. It will include a sit-in area, perfect for breakfast, lunch and Barista Coffee with treats, while also providing a range of everyday essentials and options for tonight’s tea. The store will stock a range of locally sourced products and will include an off licence and a Post Office.”



Kerry Foods in ‘fresh’ deal with Asda

David Neill, national account manager at Kerry Foods is pictured with Brian Conway, ASDA buying manager Northern Ireland.


erry Foods has secured a contract which will see it supply all Asda stores in NI with its new line, Denny All-Natural Ingredients Freshpack ham. Denny Freshpack uses thick-cut ham made with 100% natural ingredients innovatively packaged in three individual pockets containing two fresh slices in each. First to the market with this unique packaging, the product is designed not only to optimise the freshness of the ham, but to reduce food waste and deliver on convenience. “With customer research revealing increasing concerns around food wastage, Denny All-Natural Ingredients Freshpack allows consumers to use only the ham they need,” said David Neill, national account manager at Kerry Foods. “From busy mums preparing the school packed lunches to those looking for a high-protein snack on-the-go, our product provides a simple solution at any time of the day. “We are delighted that the product will be stocked in Asda stores across Northern Ireland, as it will not only secure jobs within the Kerry Group but also allows us to build upon our strong partnership with the retailer.” Brian Conway, ASDA buying manager Northern Ireland, said: “Denny is a brand favourite with our customers, and we are delighted to welcome this latest product from Kerry Foods to our shelves. Our customers want products which are high-quality, nutritionally valuable and fit with their lifestyles – and Denny Freshpack delivers on all of these requirements.” Denny Freshpack is available in Asda stores across NI now. 12

Tesco opens its newly refurbished Cookstown store T esco NI has invested over £1.3m in improving its new look Tesco Cookstown store to give mid-Ulster shoppers an unparalleled shopping experience, including a complete overhaul of the fresh-food section with an expansion of the fish-counter, butchery, and bakery counter. The retailer has worked with local suppliers to bring the craftsmanship and passion of a traditional local butcher and fishmonger with the convenience of Tesco NI, with Primacy Farm Butchers and Molloy’s Fishmongers offering new state of-the-art counters in store. The Primacy Meats counter now in Tesco offers a selection of the most popular products from Primary Farm Village outside Bangor, and offers great value while delivering on Tesco NI’s commitment to sourcing locally, with 100% of the meat sourced in Northern Ireland. The new premium fresh Molloy’s fish counter now offers Tesco Cookstown’s valued customers a full range of high quality and fresh, fish and seafood on the counter, plus a selection of prepacked frozen products combined with knowledgeable and friendly service. The Molloy’s fish counter sources the best fish from the North East Atlantic, delivered daily from Molloy’s fishmonger in the premier fishing port of Killybegs, nestled on the scenic South West coast of Donegal. The newly refurbished store also features a new state-of-the-art bakery, with only 50 of its

Pictured are, from left, Emma McKernan (Tesco NI); Craig O’Neill, store manager of the Tesco NI store in Cookstown; Gabriel Mullan from Primacy Farm Butchers; and Shane Molloy of Molloy’s Fishmongers.

kind within Tesco GB. This is the first bakery of its type to launch in Northern Ireland. Highly trained Tesco bakers will bake fresh bread, cakes and pastries in-store every day. “The Tesco Cookstown store has always had a unique offering for our customers with a wide selection of fresh Northern Irish products,” said Craig O’Neill, store manager, Tesco Cookstown. “We are very proud to have taken direct customer feedback onboard when designing the fit-out and we now have state-of-the-art low level fittings, making the shopping experience much more pleasant for our customers.” Tesco Cookstown currently employs 216 staff including highly skilled butchers, bakers, fishmongers and cheesemongers.

Tesco celebrates 20 years of supporting local suppliers


o celebrate 20 years for Tesco in Northern Ireland, the retailer invited Ross Thompson from Thompson Family Teas and John Hopkins from Irwin’s Bakery down to the Belfast Metro store to celebrate with store manager, Jim Gough. Thompson and Irwin’s are two of Tesco Northern Ireland’s longest standing suppliers and Jim Gough has been with Tesco since the beginning. “Tesco arrived in Northern Ireland on the 29th October, 1996 with a local shopping budget of £50m,” said Sean Largey, commercial manager at Tesco Northern Ireland. “Nowadays it spends more than £580m on local food and drink; cause for celebration in itself.” Meanwhile, a premium artisan bakery specialising in gluten-free treats is the latest local company to secure space on Tesco Northern Ireland’s shelves. The £20,000 deal will see New Found Joy’s six-strong tray bake range in selected stores across Northern Ireland and is in direct response to a growing consumer demand for free-from foods that don’t compromise on taste. The team behind New Found Joy previously ran a coffee shop in Lurgan, where they prided themselves on using traditional baking methods and serving all homemade fayre. Legislation around allergen controls prompted the team to seek alternative premises to manufacture and create gluten-free options. “As an artisan bakery, we are a small, agile team with big ambitions,” said Carol Little, owner of New Found Joy. “Tesco Northern Ireland’s support has been invaluable on this next stage of our business journey.”


Retailer focus with Liam McMahon, owner of SPAR Glen Road

WHEN DID YOU BECOME A RETAIL PARTNER OF THE HENDERSON GROUP? I began trading with the Henderson Group in 2005 after independently trading for one year. The store suffered a fire in 2012 which meant it was closed for one year. It was a challenging time but, with the help of the Henderson Group, and a lot of hard work we successfully re-opened in 2013. It’s gone from strength to strength since then! WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THE HENDERSON GROUP? I chose the Henderson Group as they are the convenience sector leader in terms of support and development. They have fantastic back up for their retailers in terms of current logistics, IT, marketing and a dedicated business development manager who is constantly bringing new ideas and strategies to the business. For me, SPAR is the word on everyone’s lips when talking about convenience and in my experience, rightly so! WHAT ADVANTAGES HAS THE PARTNERSHIP BROUGHT? The Henderson Group has helped grow my top line sales and my net profits. Further to this, they have consistently worked to help me develop my portfolio of stores; for example setting me up and supporting me through the opening of a second store on the Grosvenor Road. They are continually introducing me to modern thinking in the market place, enabling me to remain competitive whilst offering my customers a modern and comfortable shopping environment.

HAS YOUR SHOP EXPANDED IN RECENT YEARS? The Glen Road store has recently extended the sales floor footprint by 500 square feet. The refit enabled me to expand my fresh chilled offering in the store by three meters, and included the introduction of approximately 40 new fresh lines. I also installed two spider fridge units, using one to promote our local butchery products, including multi-buy options and the other to promote ‘Tonight’s Tea’ solutions. This has proved very popular with my customers as recent research has shown that approximately 30% of shoppers are undecided about tonight’s tea at 3pm that day. I have also installed off fixture bread displays, which I have used to promote local hero bakeries and fresh cream products – something that again has resulted in a lot of positive feedback from my customers. The introduction of a scoop ice cream solution alongside my till area has proved very popular with the local school children and adults alike! Finally, my Food to Go and Bean To Cup coffee solutions in store have been extended and updated. These are real growth opportunities in the convenience sector and I want to ensure they are available to every customer entering my store. HOW HAS TRADE BEEN THIS YEAR? Trade this year has been excellent; since my refit, I am up 15% like for like on previous years. I have realised the benefit of investing in my store in the right areas and I know that continuous investment in my business is vital to sustain growth, in what

Store Manager Gearard Smyth, Customer Advisor Cliodhna O Hara and Store Owner Liam McMahon are pictured at SPAR Glen Road.

is one of the most competitive retail sectors. To retain my current customers and to bring in new customers at every opportunity, I know I need to keep improving my offering and my store. ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR ISSUES CURRENTLY FACING THE RETAIL SECTOR? I feel the main issues for the retail sector at the minute are continued competition from the multiple sector and new convenience competitors. Increased operating costs due to the new minimum wage and pension regulations have also made a difference. I believe it’s very important to limit your overheads by using the most current equipment and technologies. And finally the shift away from the cigarette industry needs to be combatted with a strong focus on sales in other ranges. This is why I continually invest in my stores; I am convinced that if you stand still you go backwards and I am determined to continue to grow and develop my store portfolio with Henderson’s support. HAVE YOU ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR THE SHOP? I would love to extend the store, which is currently operating at over its £ per square foot capacity. I have a few obstacles in the way before I can do this (but I have overcome obstacles in the past!) Apart from that I think it is my responsibility to keep myself informed about current trends and ideas to ensure that I offer my customers the most modern and positive shopping experience I can.



Musgrave launches exclusive celebrity wine pairing

Anne and Alan Kennedy from Centra, Ballinderry.

Pictured are, from left, Michael McCormack, managing director, Musgrave NI; Noel McMeel, ambassador chef, SuperValu NI; Musgrave NI’s wine expert, James McLornan; and Jane McClenaghan, ambassador nutritionist, Centra NI.


eading convenience brands, SuperValu and Centra, which are owned by Musgrave NI, have exclusively launched chat show host Graham Norton’s own wine in Northern Ireland. The announcement that the local retail brands will stock the wine in their stores was revealed at an event hosted at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast to showcase SuperValu and Centra’s seasonal range of food. More than 100 media, stakeholders and retailers attended the Christmas-themed evening which saw VIP guests sample SuperValu and Centra’s exciting new festive range of fresh, quality, convenience food including party foods and desserts, fresh bakery and special Christmas Gourmet sandwiches. The venue was transformed into ‘a re-tail of two Christmases’ as SuperValu’s Bring Home Christmas campaign of indulgent food, festive value and time-

honoured tradition was launched alongside Centra’s Let’s Rock Christmas messages of food inspiration, convenience and enjoying the festive season to the full. SuperValu’s Ambassador Chef Noel McMeel treated guests to a live demonstration of recipes he has created exclusively for the brand, to help customers with hints and tips for the perfect family Christmas while Nutritionist Jane McClenaghan, who is partnering with Centra, created an inspiring selection of healthy alternatives for the party season. “We’re delighted that SuperValu and Centra stores have been selected to stock Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz exclusively in Northern Ireland,” said Michael McCormack, Musgrave NI managing director. “These are great wines for Christmas celebrations and complement our new seasonal range perfectly. The festive season

Pictured at the event are Frank, Gerard and Cathal Boyd from Centra Junction One.


is a key time for retailers and we’ve increased our convenience food offering this year by 25%, to ensure our customers have everything they need for the perfect Christmas. “Whether you are cooking from scratch with a fresh turkey dinner and all the trimmings or prefer a special food-to-go Christmas lunch, we have both the range and our ambassador partnerships to offer recipes, inspiration and ideas to help brighten up the festive season and Bring Christmas Home to you.” Musgrave NI’s wine expert, James McLornan said: “Graham’s favourite two wines are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Australian Shiraz, hence the choice of his blends. Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc, which launched in the UK last year, has already received a number of accolades and sold more than 600,000 bottles since its launch. “Tonight we launched the Graham Norton Shiraz in Northern Ireland and it has already won a Gold medal at the 2016 Sydney International Wine Competition from its global launch earlier this year. There’s a reason why this has been described as ‘one of the most successful celebrity wine pairings ever’ and with the exclusive launch into SuperValu and Centra stores, we believe our customers may buy the wine for the celebrity behind it, but they’ll return for the quality.”

Raymond Lusty, Hannah Batch and Richard and Ingrid Lusty from Centra, Larne.

LET’S CHRISTMAS Wishing you all a very

Merry Christmas from Musgrave NI

Ulster Business Advert Ad - December.indd 1

23/11/2016 13:41


Autoline issues Christmas insurance warning to retailers Up to 40% of SMEs are underinsured, according to the Newry-based insurer Caroline Currie, sales director at Autoline


etailers in Northern Ireland are being warned to make sure that their insurance is fit for purpose in the run up to Christmas. According to Newry-based Autoline Insurance, too many retailers are failing to adequately insure stock as inventories start to build up for the holiday season. If the worst should happen and the sum insured is less than the stock being carried, retailers could find themselves significantly out of pocket. “Christmas is always the busiest time of the year for retailers and, although insurance may not seem to be the most pressing matter, taking just 10 minutes to review your policy could potentially save

your business from disaster,” said Caroline Currie, sales director at Autoline. “Underinsurance – failing to properly assess how much your stock and property is worth – is the number one insurance mistake for any business. This is particularly true now when stock levels are at an all-time high. “If a retailer’s policy is only designed to cover the average amount of stock held and doesn’t include a seasonality clause that increases cover during busy periods, that extra stock will not be covered in the event of a claim.” Although there are no specific details on underinsurance in the retail sector, a report last year by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority suggested that up to 40% of UK small- and medium-sized businesses are underinsured. “Given that independent and smaller retailers have fewer resources than their larger High Street counterparts, they should be seeking more support from their insurance providers, not less,” said Currie. “We always recommend that customers discuss their insurance needs with a professional advisor. That will help stop issues such as underinsurance, public and employment liability or storm damage being overlooked.

Autoline’s HQ in Newry

“With Christmas just around the corner, a weak pound driving cross-border trade and an unexpected post-Brexit boost in retail sales – up 4% in the UK compared to 2015 – stock levels are expected to be particularly high this year. It would be a shame if that positive outlook was ruined by an easily rectifiable problem such as under-insurance.” Autoline employs 190 across five offices in Enniskillen, Ballymena, Coleraine, Downpatrick and Newry. Clients range from small independent traders to pop-up shops and clients with multiple premises. Autoline is also currently offering to better the best insurance quotes received by customers across a range of retail sectors.

Get All Wrapped Up for kids with cancer C

Caroline Boe and Jennifer Kerr, EUROSPAR, get All Wrapped Up in their Christmas jumpers with Cancer Fund for Children’s Corporate Fundraiser, Sorcha Mac Laimhin.


ancer Fund for Children is urging local people to dust off their Christmas jumpers and get into the Christmas spirit in December by taking part in their festive jumper day campaign, All Wrapped Up. The local children’s cancer charity is encouraging businesses, schools, clubs and community groups from across Northern Ireland to get together in their cosiest, cheesiest and most outrageous Christmas jumpers, to support families devastated by cancer this Christmas. This year, the charity hopes to raise a phenomenal £45,000 through its flagship Christmas campaign which has been sponsored by EUROSPAR and VIVOXTRA for the first time. “We are really proud to sponsor Cancer Fund for Children’s All Wrapped Up campaign for the first time this year,” said Bronagh Luke, head of Corporate Marketing at Henderson Group, owners of EUROSPAR and VIVOXTRA. “Cancer Fund for Children have been our

official charity partner since 2011, and in that time our retailers and customers have raised a whopping £647,300 for local children and young people affected by cancer. “Staff from EUROSPAR and ViVOXTRA have gone above and beyond to raise funds by doing everything from coffee mornings to marathons and fancy-dress days to skydives. This year, the teams will be getting their favourite festive jumpers on to raise funds for local kids with cancer. Please join us by gathering your workmates, friends and family, registering to take part, putting on your Christmas jumpers and flooding the offices, clubs and schools in Northern Ireland with tinsel and glitter.” To sign up to All Wrapped Up or to find out more about how you can support Cancer Fund for Children this Christmas, contact 028 9080 5599 or email fundraising@ For more information log on to

My Life in the Grocery Trade Philip Conway, head of Sales for Avondale Foods BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE Fresh produce has always played a big role in my life - I’m from a horticultural background, and I grew up on a vegetable farm. I then studied Horticulture at Strathclyde University, Glasgow. After university, I worked in England with a fresh produce company, G’s Marketing for six years in a number of roles covering production, sales and marketing. In 2000, I moved back home to work with Quinfresh for six months before joining Avondale Foods. Avondale supplies a range of products including coleslaws and dressed salads, side salads, soups, sauces and vegetable-based accompaniments. Initially, I joined the company as a procurement manager, but I moved into sales within my first year, and have been here for the past 15 years. WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE? It’s a varied job; my role mainly consists of managing our existing customer base, building new business and sourcing new customers. There are plenty of challenges, and I enjoy the day to day business dealings and customer negotiation. A lot of time is spent seeking potential new customers, exploring new product opportunities and negotiating terms of trade. As we supply to a number of product categories, I work with a variety of buyers. Developing customer relationships for the longer term is essential, I have to take a long-term view and consider what opportunities these can lead to for Avondale, not just in the next 12 months, but further down the line in the coming years.

When I’m in the office, there are often meetings to attend - whether it is with other members of the senior management team, with the sales team or a meeting about a product launch. Of course, customer communication plays a big part in my role, so I’m often in touch via email and phone, making sure they always receive great customer service and innovation from Avondale.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB? Best: Meeting people within the food industry and securing new customers for Avondale Foods. It’s always great to see our products launch into customers’ stores, and of course ensuring the business grows and sees long-term success. Worst: We operate in a very competitive marketplace that is often driven by price. As a company focused on producing top quality products, it can sometimes be difficult to balance these factors. I believe quality is extremely important to the consumer – especially in today’s era of healthy, tasty food. BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY I’m either in the office, or travelling within Ireland or over to GB on any given day. Some days I have a 4am start, and an early flight - where I often get to meet other members of the food industry on the same flight. Avondale Foods is constantly working on new business and developing new products. Day to day, I work with a great team of people within the company - each person has input at the various stages of a product launch, or securing a new customer.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? There have been a number of highlights over the years, but it does bring great satisfaction when we pick up a new customer, or get awarded new business. It’s a great feeling to feedback this to our staff in Avondale - and congratulate them on the great job they all do. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY? I’d have to say dealing with the people within the local food and retail industry; there is a very straight forward approach from people in Northern Ireland. Everyone gets on with the job in a very practical way. It is also very satisfying when the success of Avondale contributes to our local suppliers who also benefit from our exports going outside of the Northern Ireland. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK? I have a family of one boy and three girls and I like to spend time with them, whether it is watching my son play Gaelic football, or the girls playing camogie or horse riding. I also referee Gaelic football during the week, and Sunday afternoons are spent travelling to the various clubs within Armagh to referee games.

Make Christmas food and drink ‘local’ this year




ear of Food & Drink, now in its concluding month, showcases the opportunities for retailers and shoppers to buy local this Christmas. I am delighted to report that the tremendous support from local retailers means that there’s now a greater selection of products from local producers on the shelves for shoppers to enjoy than when we first launched Year of Food & Drink back in March 2015. It’s also easier than ever before to enjoy genuinely local meals at home over the Christmas period. Virtually every food and drink item required for the Christmas table can now be sourced from local growers and processors. As we’ve stressed over the years, the best food available is grown here and definitely not flown here. We have excellent, nutritious and award-winning food and drink produced here with traceability and provenance and the lowest possible carbon footprint; the latter becoming increasingly

Year of Food & Drink continues with Christmas & Premium Foods month N orthern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016 is a celebration of everything that makes local produce so good including epic landscapes, time-honoured traditions and the people and producers behind its food heritage. The theme for December is Christmas & Premium Foods. DECEMBER 1-22 Belfast Christmas Market (featuring new Northern Ireland larder showcase) Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square N DECEMBER 2 A Taste of Northern Ireland Gourmet Dinner 7pm, Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, Corporation Square, Belfast DECEMBER 17 Christmas at Inns Market 10am-2pm, Saintfield Rd, Belfast


important with shoppers, especially the Millennials. Food NI is immensely encouraged by the enthusiastic support from supermarkets, independents and delis for the Year of Food & Drink campaign, to increase awareness of the breadth and quality of food and drink now available here. Supportive publications like the Ulster Grocer have made – and, I am sure, will continue to make in the years ahead - a major contribution to overall awareness. They have all embraced the campaign with great commitment and helped to ensure its success over the past 12 months. We’ll be continuing to work with them to build on this support in the years ahead as we move from a good food region to a great food region by 2020. Year of Food & Drink has been an important step in our journey to a stronger food and drink industry enjoying even greater success at home and growing recognition in hugely important markets

such as Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and further afield. It is essential that we continue to build on the successes of Year of Food & Drink in 2017 and well beyond. What Year of Food & Drink has achieved is to start to strengthen the connection here between shoppers, retailers, processors and producers, an essential relationship which has the potential to create greater employment and career development opportunities. The campaign has stimulated business start-ups and new product development in what is now seen as an innovative industry with immense potential. We’ve seen smaller farms in particular, creating original products which have won acclaim from expert judges in prestigious competitions such as the UK Great Taste Awards, Blas na hEireann and the British Street Food Awards during the year. Strengthening the ‘field to fork’ chain, of course, was one of the key recommendations of the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s Going for Growth action plan. This year we’ve worked alongside public agencies such as Tourism Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Invest NI, DAERA local authorities and private sector companies, in co-ordinating, advising on and supporting a wide range of marketing activities. The initiative has brought people together in an unprecedented way with a common goal, to strengthen the reputation of food and drink from Northern Ireland. Our food and drink industry has moved ahead strongly and confidently during the year and is poised for even greater success in 2017. A number of pivotal events are already in the pipeline including the FoodNI Pavilion at the now fourday RUAS show at Balmoral and the BBC Good Food Show in Belfast. Local food will also have a dedicated presence at the popular Christmas Market at Belfast this December. So as we bring the Year of Food & Drink to a close for 2016, there’s no doubt the best is yet to come.

“Virtually every food and drink item required for the Christmas table can now be sourced from local growers and processors. As we’ve stressed over the years, the best food available is grown here and definitely not flown here.”


Henderson Wholesale launches premium fresh range The Kitchen H

enderson Wholesale, part of the Henderson Group, has launched a newly-revamped line of fresh, convenient meals, The Kitchen. The rebranded range is an evolution of the innovative Meals Made Delicious concept tested in 2015, enabling retailers to offer shoppers readymade, foil tray solutions to get ‘tonight’s tea’ sorted quickly and tastily. For extra convenience, the products can be heated in both the oven and the microwave. The 39 products range from main meals such as Chicken and Broccoli Bake, Roast Beef in Peppercorn Sauce and Cottage Pie, sides including Sweet Potato Chilli Fries, Potato and Cheese Bake and a Green Vegetable Medley, and desserts such as Sticky Toffee Pudding, Apple and Blackberry Crumble and Profiteroles. The line also includes new meal for one options including Beef & Black Bean Sauce with Rice, Beef Stroganoff & Rice and Chicken Madras & Rice at £2.99 each. Each main meal is £3.49 each, any two sides for £3.50 or a main plus two sides for £6.99.

The Fresh Team has also collaborated with local food producer, Big Pot Co. in Cookstown to provide ‘family pots’ of favourites from Beef Bolognese to Vegetable Soup, priced at £5 each for 1kg. Key party food lines will also be available over the festive period, two vol-au-vent options at £2.79 each, and two types of canapés at £3.49 each. Other local suppliers involved in the range are Daily Bake in Armagh, Willowbrook Foods in Killinchy and Quinfresh in Dungannon. “The Kitchen is our new, premium meal range that has been produced with convenience and tonight’s tea at the fore, said Neal Kelly, fresh foods director at Henderson Wholesale. “We have worked with our local suppliers to produce great food made locally, so our retailers can offer their customers the very best options for their shoppers.” The company worked with the Ulster University Business School’s Food and Consumer Testing Suite (FACTS) to help test, develop and refine the new range. Various mains and sides were tested including

the potato and cheese bake and the green vegetable medley, which all the panellists said they would buy. The chicken and broccoli bake was a clear winner, as 89% of the panellists said they would buy this. “This research has become invaluable to shaping the fresh products we produce for the company,” said Kelly. “These are blind taste tests with participants only being told where the products come from once they have finished the tasting. It gives us great insight into what consumers think about a product, uncovering their preferences and ultimately helping us make a better product with our suppliers.” The Kitchen is available now in SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO, ViVOXTRA and ViVO Essentials outlets across Northern Ireland.



Consumer insight and market update BY JASON WINSTANLEY, SENIOR INSIGHT AND RESEARCH MANAGER, MOY PARK NORTHERN IRELAND IN CONTEXT ast month we looked at the fragile nature of the consumer mood, as it teeters between a series of shocks (essentially summed up in two words – Brexit and Trump) on the one hand, and the positivity of growing disposable income on the other. We also saw that the devaluation in sterling seen since the summer is almost certain to lead to a surge in inflation, and yet… The actual data continues to confound expectation. Just when it seemed inevitable that inflation was significantly on the way up for the first time in a couple of years, October’s CPI figure showed that it had actually fallen1. The 0.1% drop was hardly significant in itself but, as it was directionally against the prevailing trend, it came as a surprise to many. However, although the headline number was driven down by slower than expected increases in the costs of clothing, hotel accommodation and various other items, the detail showed that factory gate prices and the costs of raw materials saw a sharp increase. So, it does seem that inflation will definitely


rise over the coming months but perhaps not as quickly, nor as uniformly, as might have first been expected. Against this background, how are consumers in Northern Ireland feeling, when compared to the rest of the UK? In many cases, the answer to this question is quite a lot more optimistic than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. For instance, whilst the majority of respondents to a recent survey2 said that their household had experienced no change in their financial situation when compared to the previous month, in Northern Ireland, a net +3% said that there had been an improvement, compared to a net -6% for the UK as a whole. Furthermore, when it comes to financial expectations for the next 12 months, Northern Irish consumers are considerably more optimistic than the rest of the country, with almost a third saying they expected to see an improvement, compared to only 23% for the UK. At the other end of the spectrum only 7% of NI consumers expect their finances to worsen, compared to 24% for the country.

Irwin’s creates new Family Balance range W

ith two-thirds of UK consumers seeking less sugar in their diet (1), Northern Ireland’s leading bakery Irwin’s has invested in the creation of a new Family Balance range of products including reduced-sugar pancakes. The new Irwin’s Family Balance range, which includes pancakes, potato farls, wheaten bread and sliced sodas, offers shoppers an alternative to these popular morning goods. Colette Wilson, head of Marketing, Irwin’s Bakery, explains consumer research has shown a gap in the market for products with reduced sugar content (2): “Irwin’s has always been committed to developing products to meet consumers’ nutritional needs without having to sacrifice on taste. Products in our new Family Balance range are made with the same quality ingredients but offer different healthier attributes such as low sugar and some contain less than 100 calories per serving. “As a family business, we know the importance of an active lifestyle and providing parents with a range of options their kids will love.” The launch of Irwin’s new Family Balance range is supported by an integrated marketing campaign including advertising, PR and social media. Irwin’s Family Balance range includes Irwin’s Pancakes (240g), Irwin’s Potato Farls (360g), and Irwin’s Sliced Sodas (360g). The RRP for each product is £1 – £1.09. (1) Mintel 2015 (2) Nielsen 2016


This pattern is repeated for other aspects; for instance, in terms of job security, levels of business activity at work and perceptions of whether now is a good time to make a major purchase, Northern Ireland sees greater optimism than the UK. This is not to say that the rest of the country is pessimistic; it isn’t – the majority of consumers, in the majority of areas affecting their financial wellbeing, expect things to remain more or less on an even keel. However, the fact that Northern Irish consumers are, on the whole, a little bit more upbeat is surely good news – especially as we approach Christmas. Overall, though, the feeling persists that, economically, the country may be in the calm before a storm – or at least a strong breeze; nevertheless, at this moment, the economic outlook for most consumers, both in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, remains reasonably optimistic… perhaps we could describe this current period as one of “positive uncertainty.” Sources: 1 – ONS, November 2016; 2 – YouGov HEAT Tracker, November 2016

Mash Direct beats Coca Cola and Weetabix to win top Food Business Award C

omber family farm Mash Direct has been named Best Food Company in the UK, ahead of some of the biggest businesses in the UK and Ireland at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards Jack Hamilton, marketing & export director at Mash Direct, in London. receiving the coveted Food Manufacturing Company of the Year trophy from Carol Smillie and award sponsor Michael Page The awards Recruitment. recognise outstanding performance and innovation in manufacturing businesses throughout the UK, and Mash Direct picked up not only the overall prize but also the award for Chilled and Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year. Competitors included Coca-Cola, Moy Park, Weetabix and Kelloggs. The judging panel, which including some of the biggest names in the business, awarded Mash Direct for excellence in innovation as well as their family ethos and values that set the company apart. Mash Direct is now the biggest brand in the Chilled Side Dish category of the supermarket in the UK and Ireland, and increased sales in GB by over 38% last year.


Moy Park brand wins big at awards shows M

Simon Rimmer; Anna Pearson and Hannan Sarwar from Moy Park; Soraya Gadelrab, Fresh Montgomery (category sponsors); and Will Torrent (patisserie chef).

oy Park has been recognised for outstanding product quality and an innovative approach to marketing at the UK Quality Food and Drink Awards and the CIM Ireland Marketing Awards. Moy Park’s branded Roast in the Bag Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffed whole bird was named overall winner in the Ready to cook category, at the prestigious UK Quality Food and Drink Awards, which celebrate the finest food and drink products from across the UK. This accolade follows success in October for the range, which won a coveted The Grocer New Product Development Award. Moy Park’s Brand Marketing team was also

awarded Best Marketing in FMCG for the launch of Moy Park’s Share the Goodness advertising campaign and Best Marketing Team (in company) at the CIM Ireland Marketing Awards. “Winning these awards is testament to the ongoing hard work and dedication of the new product development and brand marketing teams, who work to ensure the Moy Park brand not only delivers high quality, tasty products but also communicates effectively with consumers,” said Briege Finnegan, brand marketing manager at Moy Park. “It’s fantastic to receive these prestigious awards and we are delighted to be endorsed for our work by respected industry bodies.”

Darren Jackson, PML; Briege Finnegan, Moy Park; Aisling Graham, Moy Park; and Pete Snodden.

Hannan Sarwar and Anna Pearson, Moy Park.

Moy Park ‘sizzles’ with new Chicken Chargrills range


reland’s number one poultry brand, Moy Park, has created a new range of ready-toheat products under the Moy Park brand, Chicken Chargrills. The range was developed to address a gap in the chilled, coated poultry category for a new convenient product suitable for a range of meal occasions.* Moy Park’s range of Chicken Chargrills includes, Original and Barbecue variants, and will provide a quality, chilled alternative to what is currently available in the frozen category. “As market leaders in innovation we seek to inspire consumers through ongoing product development,” said Briege Finnegan, brand marketing manager for Moy Park. “Insights into the chilled, coated category have shown a period of stagnation*, and we identified an opportunity to capitalise on this by using NPD to reinvigorate the category and attract consumers. It was important to create a product that was versatile and could be used as a quick, easy solution for a range of meals. Chargrills are perfect as a delicious topping for a salad, or used in a creamy

pasta dish – and the Barbecue Chargrills are ideal as a burger for a tea-time treat. “From consumer research we know that health, convenience and quality are priorities for consumers. To address these needs, Moy Park Chicken Chargrills are made with 100% breast meat, and are baked rather than fried – furthermore, these can be heated in the microwave in under two minutes. The product launch will be supported with an integrated marketing campaign that will include PR, trade press advertising and digital media.” Moy Park Chicken Chargrills - Original and Barbecue varieties are currently available in selected Tesco Ireland stores now and other selected stores from January 2017. For more information on products and distribution, please contact Moy Park on 028 38 352 233. Sources *Source 1: Toluna Coated Shoppers *Source 2: 12 week Kantar Ireland data to 27th March



Henderson Food Machinery going from strength to strength Henderson Food Machinery has now been established for 18 months and is going from strength to strength. David Henderson


avid Henderson the Managing Director of the business has been supplying food machinery for over 25yrs and made a decision 18 months ago to move from England to Northern Ireland. Henderson Food Machinerys first year in business has exceeded their own expectations supplying a wide range of new and used food processing and packaging equipment. Also, within the business they have agreed to support 16 manufacturers/partners which allows Henderson Food Machinery to supply equipment from primary processing through to end of line packaging. Henderson Food Machinery has an extensive range of equipment supplied by MPE Tray Sealers, Deighton Manufacturing, Unifiller Depositors, Farley Greene Sieves, Carruthers Shredders, Gernal Cook Quench Chill and Ovens, FPE Mincers and Grinders, CRM Slicers, Havantec Mixers and Grinders and Tecnobox Tray Erecting Equipment to name but a few. This is constantly changing on a monthly basis. Henderson Food Machinery supplies into sectors such as meat, fish, poultry, confectionary, bakery, pet food, ready meals, vegetables, fruit, dairy and brewing. They also supplies an extensive selection of quality used equipment from many manufacturers. At present Henderson Food Machinery supply 50% of machinery within Northern Ireland and Ireland, 40% would be into the rest of the UK and 10% in exports further afield. The business at present is currently receiving 50-60 lines of enquiry by e-mail each week and David can see this increasing due to their stock and excellent support from their partners. David having worked for many years for another major used machinery supplier decided to set up a business on his own offering competitive prices and superb customer support. Since the business started 18 months ago David has had to recruit both office and warehouse staff. The team at present consists of Debra Henderson Accounts, Office Manager Julie Bell, Francis Mulligan Sales Representative, 2 engineers and a warehouse operative. HFM are currently looking for sales representatives to help with our ongoing enquiries. David believes 2017 is going to be a fantastic year for HFM and that we will become the largest new and used machinery dealer within Ireland. MARKETING PUSH A further contributor to the fledging business’ early success has been strong investment in marketing through social media, trade press advertising and exhibitions. In 2016 Henderson Food Machinery sponsored the Best Brand Award


EQUIPMENT PROFILE at the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards. They were the main sponsors for the inaugural Northern Ireland Agricultural Awards and also sponsored the Meat Category at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. Henderson Food Machinery also showcased its range of equipment and services at many of the major trade exhibitions in 2016 which included The Balmoral Show, The PPMA Total Show in Birmingham and also Gulfood Manufacturing in Dubai. Going forward in 2017 HFM will be exhibiting at Catex in Dublin, re-exhibiting at Balmoral Show, PPMA Show and Gulfood Manufacturing. FOCUS ON NEW David believes after talking with customers that more and more manufacturers are looking to purchase new equipment at competitive prices. Henderson Food Machinery with their extensive range of partners can offer a one stop solution to all of their processing needs. Henderson Food Machinery will always offer the best prices around and can also offer part exchange on used equipment, as well as offering rent to buy arrangements. Our factory is in Crossgar, but we also have storage facilities in the UK, our business supplies machinery to the UK, Ireland and around the world. We believe the demand for buying quality new and used processing and packaging machines at competitive prices will increase and Henderson Food Machinery want to be your first point of contact. Our policy is simple. To supply quality service at competitive prices. We work closely with most food processing and packaging machinery manufacturers, so when selling machines we can offer the right advice, giving you peace of mind going forward with your purchases.

David and Debra Henderson are pictured with Julie Bell and Wojciech Makowski.

HFM’s wide range of new and used machinery is currently housed in three units at its Crossgar headquarters.



Carol switches from stock trader to stock maker BY BERNIE MULLEN

Carol Banahan pictured with Brian McDermott, manager of the Foodovation Centre at North West Regional College in Derry


former stock trader now based in the North West has swapped her career as a high-flying investor in the financial markets to invest in her own business producing natural and nutritious traditional beef and chicken stock using local ingredients. Carol Banahan is the first business client based in the new Foodovation Centre at North West Regional College in Derry whose high-tech facilities have enabled her to expand production of her product line, Carol’s Stock Market, which has no additives or preservatives. Her traditionally-made natural stock products sold out at the recent Slow Food Festival organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council as part of its programme of events supporting Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016. A native of Dublin, Carol enjoyed a successful career with the investment management arm of one of Canada’s largest banks before moving back to Ireland three years ago. She now lives in Greencastle, Co Donegal with her husband Neil McParland from Derry who is a therapeutic radiographer at the state-of-the-art new radiotherapy unit which is scheduled to open soon at Altnagelvin Hospital. While she may have retired from the cut and thrust of the investment banking world and stepped away from the stock trading desk, Carol has no intention of slowing down her stock making and the Foodovation Centre under the direction of Chef Brian McDermott has become her new workplace coinciding with Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink. 24

“I set up Carol’s Stock Market because I absolutely love making stock,” said Carol. “I have made my own stock for many years and knew there was a gap in the market as I couldn’t get any natural stock anywhere; there are plenty of stock cubes on the market and other processed products. I thought long and hard about it and decided to give it a try. I started to do my own research and that took several months as well. I ultimately realised this could have its limits as producing stock is a very long process; it is very much a Slow Food product and I decided this business won’t survive if I don’t get into a commercial grade kitchen. “You can’t live around here and not know who Brian McDermott is and, before I even knew

anything about the North West Regional College I contacted Brian last April/May; we arranged to meet for a chat and I brought him some samples. I left his house that night full of optimism and excitement because he said no-one else was doing this in the North West and probably not in the whole country to any great extent. He said it was a good product and told me about the Foodovation Centre. He said I would be a really good candidate for the Centre.” Since moving into the Foodovation Centre just over a month ago, Carol has been able to substantially upscale production in its custom built kitchen which is fitted with the latest hightech equipment, chilling and laboratory facilities, together with product development mentoring and support. “I do need ongoing support and there have been several other people at the College in addition to Brian who have been extremely helpful in helping turn this into a viable business rather than just a hobby in my home kitchen,” she said. “It is still early stages, we are still working through certain logistics but it is going very well and the amazing support from the College has opened up a whole new market to me.” Carol’s Stock Market – which comes in smartly designed 500mls spout pouches for easy pouring – is available in a number of local butchers and delis, with plans for expansion nationwide. As it is freshly made, the stock has a short shelf life but can be frozen without losing any of its flavour or nutritional value. Carol’s Stock Market natural beef and chicken products which are suitable for soups, stew, curries and gravy

Tannaghmore and other upcoming opportunities Maxol is inviting applications from qualified individuals and organisations to operate it’s latest retail development. This is scheduled to open in April 2017. Maxol also has other exciting opportunities coming down the line. If you feel you can meet the challenge of this high quality retail and food service opportunity, have the necessary experience and are able to fund the required working capital, please complete the application form on our website at:

Visit opportunity to view current opportunities.

More information about this and other opportunities are available on our website.

Maxol Oil Limited 48 Trench Road, Mallusk, Newtownabbery, Co. Antrim, BT36 4TY T: 048 90506000 E:


Northern Irish quail takes off with top chefs


ward-winning Ballinteer Farm Quail has won backing from many of the region’s top chefs for fresh quail, quail eggs and seasonal products such as partridge, pheasant and mallard duck. The farm-based company, winner of the Best Start-Up Business of the Year in the recent Northern Ireland food and farming awards, is now supplying its poultry products to chefs at the five-star Merchant Hotel and the Michelin star OX and EIPIC restaurants, all based in Belfast. In addition the farm-based poultry processor now counts other quality restaurants such as Sapphyre, James Street South and Hadski’s in Belfast along with Bushmills Inn in Bushmills, Balloo House in Killinchy, Newforge County House, Magheralin, Galgorm Hotel and Spa in Ballymena and Bartali in Portballintrae among its regular clients. Ballinteer Farm, located near Limavady, is Northern Ireland’s only quail producer and only the second on the island of Ireland. It was established earlier in the year by husband and wife team James and Linda Christie. They converted their dairy farm to rear quail and other poultry. They have since expanded the farm by developing local sources for game birds. Linda Christie

New charcuterie products launched by Broughgammon


roughgammon, the Northern Irish producer of goat and rose veal products, has launched new charcuterie products from its own farm-based processing unit. The company, based on a family farm at Ballycastle and a recent winner in the British Street Food Awards in Birmingham, has developed a unique kid goat pancetta and free range rose veal carpaccio. The goat pancetta is made from goat belly that’s cured for three weeks in juniper, black pepper and garlic. In addition the small business, run by Charlie Cole and other family members, has introduced a new free range rose veal pastrami. The new products are being launched at country markets across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. They are also available from the company’s website. “Innovation is the lifeblood of our business,” said Millie Cole, a director in the family firm. “Our strategic focus is on maximising the potential of our animals through the creation of new products which will encourage consumers to try cabrito and rose veal, meats which don’t usually feature on dinner tables in Northern Ireland and the Republic. “We’ve also seen an encouraging growth here in charcuterie meats over the past year. In addition, we provide venison and game.”

Refreshed Fivemiletown cheese enjoys steady growth

New charcuterie products

ivemiletown Creamery has experienced steady growth following a product rebrand and a £1m investment in new production lines to cope with the extra demand. The artisan cheese business, owned by Dale Farm since 2014, has been given a contemporary branding covering its extensive portfolio of award winning soft cheeses and smoked cheddar. At present 25 people are employed by the company, producing the hugely successful Fivemiletown brands which have won awards as recent as this summer at the Nantwich International Cheese Show. The refreshed packaging of the range of artisan products gives the cheese an outstanding on-shelf presence. At the Nantwich event, considered the cheese ‘Oscars’, Fivemiletown Creamery won gold awards for their Ballybrie range as well as Ballyoak, the naturally smoked cheese and silver awards for Ballybrie and Boilie goat’s cheese.




from Northern Irish artisan

spini Charcuterie in Northern Ireland has developed a range of new spicy salami and cured meat sausages, including Saucisson Sec, Chorizo meats, Lomo, Coppa, Bresaola, Kielbasa and Nduja. Based at Aughnacloy, Ispini (Irish for sausages) is the brainchild of experienced pig farmer Jonny Cuddy. He’s been helped to develop the sausages by top chef Sean Owens and experts at the School of Artisan Foods in Welbeck, Nottingham. He’s also using other local artisan ingredients including spent grain from Pokertree craft brewery in neighbouring Carrickmore in the curing process. “I was looking around for ways to increase the return from our pigs,” he says.” Turning any sort of reasonable profit in farming has become very challenging. I was keen to find something other than bacon because there are just too many people here already producing great bacon and gammon. I didn’t see much room for growth in these traditional products. I needed niche products that would be capable of commanding a premium.” The focus on salami and other spicy sausages followed extensive market research and discussions with top notch chefs such as Sean Owens. “Salami sausages caught my imagination, and I was also influenced by the fact that that no-one else is producing these in Northern Ireland,” says Cuddy.


Get ready for Shloer’s Christmas sales surge


HS Sales & Marketing, which distributes the Shloer sparkling adult soft drinks brand in Northern Ireland, is pulling out all of the stops to help retailers make the most of and cope with the massive sales uplift of Shloer during the festive season. In addition to supporting the entire Shloer portfolio of flavours, styles and pack formats with a wide range of tailor-made activity from promotional festive price points to value driven multi-buy offers, SHS Sales & Marketing will also

be supplying Shloer-branded point-of-sale materials to increase visibility and free-standing display units enabling retailers to create some in-store theatre with themed displays whilst also increasing the amount of display space to manage the seasonal upsurge in demand for the brand. Additional field sales teams will also be visiting stores to help ensure onfixture availability is maintained as demand and rates of sale increase - Shloer’s rate of sale is five times higher over the festive period than at other times of the year.1 “Shloer has achieved three consecutive years of growth for retailers2 and it’s a ‘must stock’ brand in the soft drinks fixture throughout the year,” said Brendan Loughran, head of Business Unit (Ireland) at SHS Drinks. “It is the adult soft drinks brand which consumers purchase when they are socialising and entertaining at home which is why it sells particularly well over the festive season - more than 1 million bottles of Shloer were sold in Northern Ireland last Christmas1 - and it’s certainly worth retailers ensuring their range includes the Shloer Light and Shloer Celebration variants to satisfy the consumer demand for more choice. “These new lines are also delivering strong growth for retailers. Shloer Celebration has attracted shoppers from 371,000 new households both to the adult soft drinks category and the Shloer brand - 71% of spend on Shloer Celebration has come from adult soft drink shoppers adding Shloer Celebration to their repertoire.3” 1 Nielsen Scantrack GB Northern Ireland inc Musgraves volume & value data 8 weeks to 02.01.2016 1 SHS Internal Sales-out NI MAT December 2013, 2014 & 2015 3 Kantar insight 52 w/e 17.7.16

From Dromore to Mexico; Grahams Bakery to supply South American country with traditional Irish biscuits


exican families are now enjoying traditional Irish shortbread and oat biscuits from Graham’s Bakery in Dromore, Co Down. Tim Graham, sales director of the familyowned home bakery, says: “We’ve strategically added a focus on developing our sales outside Northern Ireland and have been finding opportunities in a few international markets, with new business in the UAE, Spain and USA. “We had the opportunity to meet with the Mexican buyers, and they were impressed by the quality of our shortbread and oat biscuits and by the contemporary Irish look of our packaging.” The news of the new breakthrough coincides with Grahams adding to its catalogue of Great Taste Awards with the Oat Biscuits receiving the double gold award for 2016. Established by May Graham in 1956, it is now into its third generation with Dennis Graham and his son and daughters managing the business. As well as having listings across Northern Ireland, the home bakery also has business in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland for its cakes, buns and biscuits, with customers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, and Dunnes.



Cacao special launched by Northern Irish chocolatier


obden and Brown, the Northern Irish artisan chocolatier, has launched a new 100% Cacao bar in response to market demands for sugar-free treats. The cacao bar is natural and unsweetened and is one of two new products developed by the company, which is headed by chocolatier Caroline McArdle and based near Moira, Co Antrim. The other bar is a 60% cacao Lime and Himalayan Pink Salt flavour. Both are glutenfree. “Feedback from customers to both bars has been extremely positive,” said McArdle. “Lime and Himalayan Salt work extremely well

Top international award for Belfast chocolatier


Deirdre McCanny

o Couture, Northern Ireland’s award-winning artisan chocolatier, has been successful again in this year’s prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards. The Belfast-based business, which is owned by Deirdre McCanny, a qualified chef and experienced chocolatier, gained a silver award in the Flavoured Milk Chocolate Bar category for its Date and Pecan 56% cocoa bar. It’s the latest in a series of awards won by the artisan business, which was the only company from Northern Ireland to feature in the awards. Co Couture has been producing a wide range of handmade chocolates in small batches since 2008. It has previously won Academy of Chocolate awards for its products.

First India Pale Lager launched by Northern Irish craft brewery


tation Works Brewery has launched Northern Ireland’s first India Pale Lager (IPL) to strengthen its portfolio of five Foxes Rock branded craft brews. The new IPL (5.2%ABV) is produced by the company at its craft brewery near Newry and is one of the first of its type developed on the island of Ireland. It has been influenced by a developing trend towards IPLs in the US. The Foxes Rock IPL is described as providing a burst of citrus and tropical fruit flavours from the specially selected new world hops. The lager has piney notes and a fruity flavour. The IPL is among five Foxes Rock beers produced at the brewery; the others are an IPA, Red Ale, Irish Pale Ale and Stout. The brewing team at Station Works is led by Master Brewer John O’Brien, previously a brew technician for Guinness at St James’s Gate in Dublin. The beers use locally-sourced ingredients such as malted barley from nearby county Louth and water from Camlough.

Gourmet pasta sauce launched by artisan ketchup business A new Italian-style pasta sauce in a jar has been launched by Northern Ireland’s award-winning Peppup. The company, based at Portaferry and owned by Turin-born Luca Montorio, adds the new pasta sauce to its existing three-strong portfolio of gourmet ketchups, products which have won UK Great Taste Awards and led to business from major retailers such as Fortnum and Mason in London, Booths in Lancashire and Donnybrook Fair in Dublin. The recipe for the new pasta sauce, the first produced in Northern Ireland, was created by Montorio and is based on his food industry experience in Italy. Ingredients include tomatoes, roasted peppers, wine vinegar and sultanas with stevia as a sugar substitute. The pasta sauce is also gluten free and is available in a 295g jar with a shelf-life of 15 months. The new sauce has been listed by Musgrave Group SuperValu supermarkets and is on sale in independent stores in Northern Ireland. Peppup is also exploring opportunities for the sauce in leading health food stores.


together and produce a rich flavour. The 100% Cacao bar has attracted very favourable response from consumers, especially those in health stores, looking for sugar-free sweets. “The Cacao bar in particular is the result of extensive market research and product development over the past few months. Consumers also find it great for cooking. Sales are really encouraging.” Cobden and Brown was launched by McArdle, a graphic designer by profession, in 2011 after her son being diagnosed with the coeliac condition. The business recently opened a purpose-built production unit.

love Christmas treats

Stock up now!!! Contact a member of our sales team: Tel +44 (0) 2886 763321 Email


Outrage over green light for mega Newtownabbey pig farm BY ALLAN PRESTON

Farmer Derek Hall


planning application for a massive pig farm in Newtownabbey that will house 15,000 animals has been approved - despite vocal protests from local residents. The application for the operation on Rea Hill Road in Newtownabbey was made by farmer Derek Hall, who had originally suggested a facility that could accommodate 30,000 animals. Furious opponents filled the chamber and protested outside, with some residents confronting councillors who supported the farm.

INM launches must-read and app for Irish agri-business sector

Among those who had objected to the plan were Queen guitarist and animal welfare campaigner Brian May, and actors Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove. The charity Animal Aid had also claimed that up to 17,000 pigs would be kept in cramped conditions. At a planning committee meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, nine members voted in favour, with two DUP members voting against. Ulster Unionist Roderick Swann, who backed the proposal, said: “I’m a farmer myself who supports the agri-industry and I was quite satisfied that all the necessary welfare issues were addressed. “The planning case officer and all the consultees were quite happy with everything that was proposed.” As well as animal welfare issues, protesters said

they were concerned over excessive noise and smell. The DUP’s John Smyth and party colleague Thomas Hogg cast the only opposing votes. “My objections were that I felt the experts weren’t always right,” said Smyth. “I was undecided till tonight when I heard the arguments for and against. “Bringing such a large development of slurry to the side of a hill I think is going to be dangerous for the future. Also, I have concerns how it will be produced year after year. I have grave concerns. “I wouldn’t like it on my front door, and a lot of people are concerned. It will definitely smell. People say it will be odour free, but there’s no such thing as an odour free system. There are animal welfare concerns.” Smyth added that a judicial review was possible but was sceptical as “ordinary people don’t have the type of money for that.”

UFU encouraged by Lidl plans vision for fresh produce

Stephen Rae


n exciting new farming and agri website is transforming the way the sector consumes online news. is a website and app which is set to become the daily ‘must read’ for farmers and those in the agri-business sector across the island. The new digital product has been launched by Independent News & Media - owners of this title - and is being produced by a strong team of agri journalists. “We are showing our commitment to the agri-food sector at Independent News and Media (INM) by rolling out FarmIreland, our new dedicated farming and agri platform,” said INM Editor-in-chief Stephen Rae.


Pictured are Ivor Ferguson, UFU deputy president, John McDonagh, senior buyer - head of Fruit, Vegetables, Plants and Flowers, and Brendan Conway, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland.


FU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson has expressed cautious optimism about prospects for local growers after meeting with the discounter’s fresh produce buyers. “We were encouraged that they appear to share our view that there is a real opportunity to develop the market for fresh produce from Northern Ireland farmers, packers, and processors,” said Ferguson. Growers have faced challenges in the recent past, because of poor returns, and Ferguson said this had been made worse because of difficulties securing land for crops. “This is down to the complexities of the conacre system,” he said. “Before committing to often expensive land, growers need reassurances from retailers that they won’t face further downward pressure on prices.” He said Lidl appeared positive about fresh produce, recognising that local growers supply top quality vegetables and potatoes. “They obviously want the best for their customers and I believe they are keen to use local supplies to grow the market,” said Ferguson.


Danske Bank signs three-year sponsorship deal of Winter Fair

RUAS WINTER FAIR) Rhonda Geary, RUAS is pictured with John Henning and Nicola McCleery, Danske Bank.


he Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) has announced Danske Bank is continuing its support of the Royal Ulster Winter Fair, and has signed a three-year deal. This will allow the event to grow in its new location and continue to provide an informative meeting place annually for the dairy industry. “The continued generous financial support of Danske Bank has played a large role in making the Winter Fair the very successful event it is today,” said Rhonda Geary, RUAS operations director. “We

are proud of the long standing partnership between ourselves and Danske Bank as it highlights our own, and the bank’s, support of the dairy industry. It is great to have confirmation that they are on board for the next three years, and we can focus on continually improving the offering at the Winter Fair, so the event remains interesting and informative for the industry.” The 2016 Royal Ulster Winter Fair was to take place at the Eikon Exhibition Centre, Balmoral Park on December 8.

Farmers’ work in tackling climate change celebrated at international summit


wenty-two farmers from across the UK will take centre stage in a new brochure Delivering Britain’s clean energy from the land authored by the UK farming unions. The report’s launch came on Farmers’ Day at the COP22 climate conference (November 7-18) being held in Marrakech, Morocco, where world leaders turned their attention to the role of agriculture in managing a changing climate. The report aims to celebrate the work of farmers from across all four UK farming unions in tackling climate change by installing renewable energy systems on their farm and producing low carbon energy. Now legally binding, the international Paris Agreement on climate change signed in 2015 has opened the door to a wealth of opportunities for farmers to contribute to the low-carbon economy. In a joint statement, the four UK farming union presidents said: ‘The farming industry grows the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector food and drink, worth £108bn, and provides jobs for 3.9 million people, all while using its natural resources to store carbon and generate clean renewable energy. Our report showcases our members’ ambitions and practical actions to be on the frontline of tackling the impact of climate change. ‘Agriculture has a unique role to play in the implementation of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, which is now taking effect. Diversification into low-carbon renewable energy offers our farmer and grower members’ stable and predictable returns, making their agricultural businesses more resilient, profitable and competitive. ‘Farmers have embraced a diverse selection of technologies at different scales to meet the needs of their business and the country. They are keen to keep their businesses progressive and at the forefront of technology for present and future generations.’



PAY UP NOW, UFU TELLS DAIRY PROCESSORS Ulster Farmers’ Union President Barclay Bell has challenged dairy processors to explain why they are not increasing prices to farmers, despite a new surge in global markets and the continuing weakness of sterling. “What I am saying is a twist on the old adage to put up or shut up,” said Bell. “In this case, if they continue not to put up, in terms of higher prices, there is no justification for shutting up. They need to explain to farmers, whether they are members of a cooperative or not, why they are refusing to increase prices to reflect the better returns they are receiving.” The UFU says the case for an increase was put beyond question by the big increase in the Fonterra auction price in New Zealand. It rose by over 11%, with whole milk powder, a key product for Northern Ireland, leading the auction upwards. “This is the best barometer of world trade and it is pointing upwards,” said Bell. “So too is the Milk Market Observatory in Brussels. No arguments can be put forward by processors here against a substantial and immediate price increase. If they continue holding back, farmers’ only conclusion can be that processors are more interested in their own profits than in ensuring farmers have the prices and profitability they need to remain in business. And at the end of the day, without farmers willing to maintain supplies processors will not have a business.” BARGAIN FOR BETTER BEEF PRICES, SAYS UFU Current beef quotations do not reflect the actual prices being paid by processors, according to UFU Beef and Lamb Chairman Crosby Cleland, who is encouraging farmers to push hard for better prices. “There is strong demand for UK origin beef, driven by the build up in stocks for the Christmas period and an exchange rate that is boosting UK exports,” said Cleland. “Over the past number of weeks, prices paid have been consistently eight to ten pence a kilo higher than quotes on offer across all cattle. This clearly demonstrates that processors are willing to pay more for cattle that meet the correct specification. With much of our beef going into the UK retail market, it is crucial farmers ensure that cattle meet the specification if the best price is to be secured.” Cleland said one way to inject greater competition into the local market is to export more live cattle to GB.



Another great turnout at the John Barrett GroceryAid lunch O

ne of the highlights of the GroceryAid, and indeed the grocery industry calendar, the annual John Barrett GroceryAid Lunch returned to Deanes at Queens on November 20. Around 140 guests from the food wholesale and retail sectors enjoyed a Prosecco reception, sponsored by Sainsbury’s, followed by a four-course meal while entertainment was provided by The Ian Hannah Experience and comedian Gene Fitzpatrick, and prizes raffled off to raise a total of £2,215 for the grocery sector charity. Donating prizes for the raffle were SHS, Tayto, Hastings Hotels, Kerry Foods, Musgrave NI, J Sainsbury, Asda, Henderson’s, Tesco, Independent News & Media, White’s, Courtney & Nelson, Savage & Whitten, PRM, SSE Arena, Doherty and Gray, Holywood Partnership and Michael Patterson.

Joan Barrett attended the John Barrett GroceryAid Lunch (second left). James Greer (left) and David McWilliams (right) were presented with special awards in recognition of their long-term contribution to the industry charity by Gillian Barker, CEO of GroceryAid, (second right).

Kevin and Una O’Callaghan of Centra, with Elaine Hennessy and Alan Cunningham of Musgrave.

Vivienne McCourt, Adrian Moore, Maria Whyte and Thomas Whyte, with Courtney & Nelson.

Nigel and Julie Maxwell of Musgrave NI, with Darren and Louise Hughes, with PRM.

Jonathan McWhinney, Stephanie McQuillan, Gloria Largey and Sean Largey, with Tesco.

Seamus Boyle, Sally Scullion, Kathleen Boyd and Cathal Boyd, with Musgrave.

Brendan Loughran, Katrina Loughran, Nikki Stewart and John Stewart, of SHS.

Richard and Lyn Heaton, Michael and Terri McGrattan, and Gillian Ekin, of Sainsburys.

James and Gladys Greer of Greer Publications, with Micola and Mark Beckett, of Ulster Grocer.

Martin and Judith Agnew of Henderson’s, with Mark and Sandra Gowdy of White’s.



Invest NI CEO congratulates Irwin’s Bakery and Tayto Group on China success

Alastair Hamilton is pictured with Brendan Lappin, Irwin’s Bakery, John McQuaid, Tayto Group, and delegates on the Northern Ireland stand at the Food Hotel China exhibition.


nvest Northern Ireland Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton has congratulated Tayto Group and Irwin’s Bakery on securing new orders in China. The Co Armagh businesses are among 11 local companies recently visiting and exhibiting at Food Hotel China, an event exclusively aimed at imported food, drink and hospitality supplies for the retail and foodservice sectors in China.

Portadown-based Irwin’s Bakery has secured a valuable order with United Merchant Food in Beijing, while Tandragee-based Tayto NI has recently shipped its first two orders to China, for ET2C in Shanghai and China Merchants Food in Shenzhen. Welcoming the news following a visit to the Northern Ireland group stand at Food Hotel China, Hamilton said: “Securing these export orders is a significant achievement for Irwin’s and Tayto who are both investing considerable time and effort into nurturing partnerships with global operators in this lucrative market. “These local food producers have benefited from food business development guidance, trade advice and from participating in Invest NI trade missions to profile their products on an international stage. “As these results demonstrate, Northern Ireland companies are reaping the business benefits of our export support and establishing strong trade and investment links across what is a huge country.” Brendan Lappin, Irwin’s Bakery business development manager, said: “We are delighted

to secure a new order via our partner in China Merchants Food with their sister company United Merchant Food of Beijing. We hope it is the beginning of a fruitful relationship with this prestigious customer. “Invest NI has assisted with expertise in market and also with the help of their great team in Northern Ireland, to facilitate introductions and meetings through the Food Hotel China exhibition; this ongoing support has been invaluable in helping us achieve this new business.” John McQuaid, Tayto Group Group sales & marketing director, said: “These shipments to China Merchants Food and ET2C are a promising start in what are early days for us in this fast-growing and dynamic marketplace. Trade support from Invest NI is paying dividends as we focus on profiling our Real Hand Cooked Chips to potential business partners. Food Hotel China offers invaluable opportunities to showcase our award-winning produce and build relationships with key decision makers.”

Finnebrogue Artisan Launches Hamilton announces new Flexitarian Brand at Waitrose Northern Ireland International Trade Plan


remium Northern Irish food processor Finnebrogue Artisan has launched its first-to-market flexitarian brand, Funky Flexitarian, at Waitrose in Britain. The new range is now available in 120 Waitrose stores and includes spicy lamb’alafal chipolatas, smokey pork n’bombay beet bangers, lightly curried cauli’nation chicken chipolatas and tasty beef, tomato n’basil bangers. Funky Flexitarian has been developed to meet the needs of the growing flexitarian market in Britain while taking into consideration food intolerances such as gluten and lactose. The products have been created by Finnebrogue, a UK specialist in innovative sausages and other products and are ideal for consumers following a healthy lifestyle or wishing to reduce their daily meat content. Commenting on the new brand, Jo Discombe, Finnebrogue’s business development director, says: “At Finnebrogue Artisan, we believe that eating a balanced diet is the key to


good health and wellbeing, whilst still feeling satisfied with what you have on your plate. “Funky Flexitarian uses prime cuts of British meat, combined with all sorts of nutritious extras.” Each variety of sausage contains at least 47% nutritious vegetables and legumes, 40% prime British meat, 3% herbs, spices and seasoning and 10% gluten free breadcrumb. The company, based at Downpatrick in Co Down and privately owned, recently completed a major investment in a new state-ofthe-art processing complex.

conomy Minister Simon Hamilton has said Northern Ireland must become more forward thinking and outward looking as it looks to seize the opportunities presented by the UK exiting the European Union. The Minister said he intends to develop a new International Trade Plan and to set up a new Air Routes Task Force for Northern Ireland. The International Trade Plan will include: * a new Trade Advisory Board drawing together some of our best business leaders to provide assistance to the Minister and Invest NI as they look to the world for new trade links; * the appointment of Northern Ireland trade ambassadors, utilising the untapped power of our diaspora to assist us in our efforts to open up new opportunities, especially in emerging markets; * the expansion of Invest NI’s international presence in up to 10 more locations around the world by the end of next year; and * the creation of new trade, investment and innovation hubs in key global markets. “Winning in an increasingly competitive global economy isn’t easy,” he said. “We can’t sit back and expect success. We need to stand up and sell ourselves because no one else will. “In the same way we have become the best performing region in the UK for attracting inward investment, so we must too aspire to become an outward looking region that trades with the world. We must bring the exact same focus to expanding our exports as we have to attracting inward investment. “If we are to seize the opportunities that this exciting new era that the United Kingdom is entering presents, then Northern Ireland must become more forward thinking and outward looking.”



Food companies cook up success F at Chartered Marketing Awards

The winner of the CIM Ireland Marketing Awards 2016 for Public Sector Marketing was McCannBlue and Safefood. Professor Jonathan Deacon presents the award to Aileen McGloin and Andrew Castles from Safe Food and Shannon Rushe, McCannBlue.

ood companies demonstrated they hold the recipe for success as they dominated the 17th Annual Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Ireland Awards at the Europa Hotel, Belfast last month. With more than 15 awards available across categories ranging from The Public Sector and Food and Drink to the Creative Industries, half of the winners were food-related companies. Local company Moy Park celebrated double success with an award for Best Marketing Team sponsored by PML and was the category winner for Fast Moving Consumer Goods for the Moy Park and AV Browne campaign titled Share the Goodness (see p21). “This was a very competitive year, with some big and small brands entering. Clearly marketers really embraced the NI Year of Food & Drink,” said Carol Magill, CIM network manager for Ireland. “As well as seeing Moy Park building on last year’s success at the awards, the Mintelsponsored Food and Drink category was won by Heavenly Tasty Organics, a small company which is exporting organic baby food across the world and demonstrating that all you need is really good know-how and drive to get ahead. “Exporter of the Year was Linwoods which has previously experienced the benefit of being associated with CIM, the largest marketing professional body in the world. In addition, McCann Blue and Safefood were awarded Best Public Sector Campaign.”

The winner of the Marketing Exporter of the Year, sponsored by Ulster Business magazine, in the annual CIM Ireland Marketing Awards was Linwoods. Pictured are Louise McManus, David Lawlor and Sarah Shimmons with Sonia Armstrong from category sponsor Ulster Business.

Winner of the CIM Ireland Marketing Awards 2016 Food and Drink Category was Heavenly Tasty Organics. Kirstin Jameson from the company accepts her award from Ciara Rafferty from category sponsor Mintel.


Moy Park won Marketing Team of the Year at the 17th Annual CIM Ireland Marketing Awards. Aisling Graham and Briege Finnegan from Moy Park are pictured with category sponsor Darren Jackson from PML. Moy Park and AV Browne also won FMCG category for the Share the Goodness Campaign.


Influencing shopper behaviour in the grocery sector Carmel Scott, strategic account director at shopper marketing agency mxb, offers advice on tapping into grocery trends through marketing YOUR BRAND OWNING THE MOMENT IN 2017 In 2016, the convenience channel continued to evolve at a rapid rate with more relevant store formats across more locations. Into 2017, shoppers will continue to rapidly evolve within this channel as shopper missions and preferences change. Shoppers continue to rate convenience behind other channels when it comes to offering best value for money but what might the year ahead look like with convenience retailers owning and pushing out strong value messages, more effective solution-based merchandising and added value through local produce and a quality offer?

experiences than ever before. C-stores can become part of this by developing dynamic social content that delivers food inspiration at every stage of the shopper journey from ZMOT to UMOT. Nearfield technology and i-beacons will rise in importance in this sector to enable engagement. mxb Shopper Marketing Agency works with leading FMCG brands like Pampers, Ariel, Pantene, Tayto, Coca-Cola and Deep RiverRock every day. We understand the challenges across different channels and how to help your brand be present and compelling. Naturally we are immersed in shopper insight and we know how to influence shopper behaviour at each stage in the shopper journey. So from that moment your shopper perceives a need, want or desire, we can ensure your brand is present from search right through to shelf and sharing. Learn more about how we can help shape your shopper marketing strategy by contacting Carmel Scott, strategic account director,

SHOPPERS WILL CONTINUE TO SHOP LITTLE AND OFTEN The shopper journey continues to diversify as shoppers are driven by an immediate need-state. People are shopping more often, shopping more locations and looking for quality and price differences. In the year ahead, C-stores will become more focused on developing a range of solutions to meet different shopper missions and help with retailer differentiation. There is still a shopper perception that C-stores are more expensive than other channels so providing strong value messages, developing ways for shoppers to save money, and even presenting solutions such as smaller pack sizes in areas with more single households will all help in the year ahead. Additionally C-stores will continue to capitalise on the opportunity to be that link between physical and digital, providing space for shoppers to pick up goods they have purchased online. THE ADDED VALUE BENEFIT OF LOCAL PRODUCE WILL CONTINUE TO PREVAIL Better quality and local produce are the added value benefits that C-store shoppers rate the most. We’ve seen a marked shift in how fresh is presented in-store with lots of super enticing theatre and artisanal merchandising formats. Here in Northern Ireland, the drive to support local producers continues to thrive. The Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink may well be over but should leave a far-reaching legacy. And for new and emerging local brands or even established brands with local heritage, it is important to hero this message and ensure it is reflected in your brand story. FOODIES ARE SERVED UP MORE MOUTH-WATERING INSPIRATION ACROSS SOCIAL CHANNELS Millennials are more informed, passionate and more willing to share food 35


Poor roads ‘cost Northern Ireland’s firms millions of pounds’ BY MARGARET CANNING

Quality infrastructure cited as vital for growth


orthern Ireland’s manufacturers are losing millions of pounds in revenue as a result of failings in the Province’s infrastructure, it has been claimed. Lobby group Manufacturing NI said improvement works on the A6 between Randalstown, Co Antrim, and Castledawson, Co Londonderry, needed to begin “immediately”. Stephen Kelly Delays in Moneynick and at the Toome bypass are preventing manufacturers in mid-Ulster from moving people and goods, the body added. Chief Executive Stephen Kelly said roads congestion in Belfast was not the only problem facing local infrastructure. “Employers, exporters and commuters are enduring millions of pounds of additional cost, lost productivity and time by not even being able to make it to or from Belfast via the M22 and A6,” he said. “Manufacturers would much rather be investing this money in new plant and premises and creating more jobs. “An immediate start to improving the A6 from the motorway to Castledawson is the most important infrastructure investment to be made right now.” He said the completion of the A6 to Londonderry, the A5 in the west and the York Street Interchange was also crucial. Mark Cuskeran, the chief executive of SDC Trailers, which is based in Toome, added: “We have 700 of our 950 staff based in our Toome facility, and there are always huge delays because of the poor and outdated existing road system. “Furthermore, we have over 100 lorries coming in and out of our facility every day. This is costing SDC Trailers and our staff significant money, which we could direct towards expansion, staff training and new jobs.”

Pictured are, from left, Adrian Doran, chair, CBI NI Infrastructure Network, Chris Hazzard MLA, Minister for Infrastructure, Angela McGowan, regional director, CBI Northern Ireland, Robin McCormick, general manager, SONI.


ore than 70 senior business leaders attended a recent CBI lunchtime briefing with the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard. CBI members received an update on his infrastructure vision for Northern Ireland, while attendees had in turn the opportunity to put their concerns directly to the Minister. The event took place at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Belfast, and was supported by SONI. “Today’s session with the Infrastructure Minister highlighted that local businesses are very keen to work with the Executive to drive our economy forward,” said Adrian Doran, chairman of the CBI NI Infrastructure Network. “Quality of infrastructure is a decisive factor when businesses plan future investment and business leaders appreciated the opportunity to hear first-hand the Minister’s infrastructure vision for Northern Ireland.


JTI launches information campaign to support trade


TI has launched an information campaign to educate existing adult smokers on the changes starting to affect their tobacco packaging as a result of new UK and EU regulations. Launched on November 17, and running online and across the UK print media, the communication is designed to support the retail trade by providing factual information about the changes to adult smokers after research shows that almost half(i) of the UK’s nine million smokers are not fully aware that packs are changing. The communication highlights the fact that the UK Government has introduced plain packaging for tobacco products which must be fully implemented by May 2017. Smokers are also given details of a website operated by JTI - www. - for more facts on the changes to tobacco packaging including, for example, the banning of smaller tobacco pack sizes and health warnings increasing in size. “We have spoken to retailers and listened to their concerns,” said Charlie Cunningham-Reid, JTI UK head of Corporate Affairs. “Our retail customers need extensive communications support now that the new packs have started to appear in shops, as it’s clear that many UK smokers don’t yet know that these changes are taking place.” includes detail on what, when and why the changes are taking place, and the information campaign also includes posters and leaflets that are available in retail shops across the UK. i Ipsos Q2 2016. 47% 18-64 y.o. 3+ sticks per day (805)


JTI continues to tackle illegal tobacco


arlier this year, JTI removed its tobacco gantry from Pall Mall News in Chorley, Lancashire following action by Lancashire Trading Standards officers. The owner, Siraj Adam, was fined and ordered to pay costs of over £700 as a result of selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco. “Yet again JTI has removed a gantry from a retailer found to be selling illegal tobacco and this clearly demonstrates our resolve in taking action against this activity,” said Charlie Cunningham-Reid, UK head of Corporate Affairs. “If this type of crime continues, customers will lose trust in their local shops as the false impression grows that all of the independent trade is rife with ‘dodgy cigarettes’. “Our commitment to support the actions of Trading Standards and HM Revenue & Customs is steadfast and we must work together to take a stand against illegal tobacco.” Anyone who knows of criminals supplying illegal cigarettes in their area owes it to their local community to report them through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.


Further education colleges highlighted as vital to future growth

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton is pictured with First Derivatives Chief Operating Officer Adrian Toner (right) and Financial Controller Frank O’Connor during a recent visit to the Newry-based software specialists.


conomy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has praised the role that our further education (FE) colleges are playing in delivering economically relevant skills. The Minister was speaking during a visit to the Southern Regional College (SRC) Newry Campus where he viewed work at the college’s Cisco lab and met with ICT and media companies from the incubation centre. “I am pleased to be able to see first hand the impressive work being taken forward by SRC,” said Hamilton. “SRC and all our FE colleges specialise in providing targeted and bespoke skills in areas including ICT and innovation support. “These skills are essential to help our businesses grow and compete in a globally-competitive

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton and Southern Regional College Chief Executive Brian Doran view plans for the new campuses at Armagh, Craigavon and Banbridge during a visit to the College’s Newry East/West Campus.

economy. The FE colleges are at the core of our education system and, along with other partners, will play a major role in delivering the Programme for Government and the skills agenda. Facilities such as SRC’s Cisco lab and Incubation Centre, which foster innovative and cutting edge thinking in areas such as social media, game design and digital marketing, are invaluable if we are to establish the highly-skilled ICT workforce upon which a knowledge-based economy is based. “Employer engagement is an integral strand of the FE strategy, Further Education Means Success. The strategy sets out an enhanced role for colleges to work more strategically with

employers and other key stakeholders to design and develop qualifications and a curriculum that meet current and future skills needs. There will be a focus on support for strategically-important areas of the economy, including higher level skills and STEM subjects and colleges will provide tailored and flexible solutions to employers.” Earlier the Minister visited the premises of financial software specialists First Derivatives. During a meeting with the company’s management team, the Minister congratulated the company which specialises in the provision of software and consulting services to some of the world’s largest finance, technology and energy institutions, on their continued growth.

P&H pioneers all-in-one mobile payment and rewards solution with Zapper


apper, the global consumer insights and marketing platform enabled by mobile payments has partnered with UK wholesale giant Palmer & Harvey (P&H), enabling retailers to instantly understand and reward loyal customers. Currently servicing over 5,000 UK stores, this next generation partnership allows P&H to offer its Plus Extra members a one-stop-shop marketing platform to instantly gain shopper insights and reward loyal consumers. With the ability to seamlessly pay, redeem offers, directly feedback and gain loyalty points, both shoppers and retailers alike will love the convenience of this smart app solution. “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Zapper, who will provide our 3,000 Plus Extra members with a fantastic loyalty and reward solutions for their consumers,” said Simon Harris, business development controller - P&H. “We are consistently looking at ways of providing new and innovative ways of driving footfall into stores. The Zapper partnership will add real value to our Plus Extra members.” The power lies beyond the payment and, using the Zapper solution, retailers will be able to automatically send digital vouchers and incentives straight to individual customers based on previous purchases. Speed of payment and offer redemption at counter is crucial to avoid lengthy queues

and potential ‘basket drop’. Enabled by scanning a unique QR code to upload the bill straight to the user’s phone for quick tap payments and seamless voucher deduction, shoppers can now ditch their wallets, save time and enjoy the true meaning of convenience. The new partnership enables Zapper to be listed as one of 300 Palmer and Harvey’s Plus Extra suppliers available to thousands of retailers across the UK. Plus Extra members will now have the opportunity to use Zapper’s all-in-one marketing solution to communicate with their individual customers and deliver targeted in-app rewards and brand specific offers. Gerry Hooper, CEO of Zapper UK, said: “Having just recently launched into the convenience retail sector, we are incredibly excited to partner with Palmer and Harvey and their well established Plus Extra Scheme. Zapper is revolutionary for retail. For the very first time, brands and retailers will both be able to instantly communicate with individual shoppers, offering real value and insight to understand specific products purchased by brand.”



Economic growth powered by entrepreneurial spirit in Northern Ireland

Pictured are, from left, David Gavaghan, Aurora Prime Real Estate, Peter Burnside, BDO (sponsor) Gavin Kennedy, Bank of Ireland UK (sponsor), CBI Director, Angela McGowan, and Colin Walsh, Crescent Capital.


edium-sized businesses (MSBs) will undoubtedly play a key role in transforming Northern Ireland’s economic growth in the years ahead, according to CBI. This was illustrated recently when more than 50 MSBs gathered at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains to share their experience of leadership, scaling up, entrepreneurship, and driving up productivity - often doing this in the face of considerable adversity. The event was the CBI’s fourth annual conference dedicated to celebrating these business champions and was supported by Bank of Ireland UK and BDO Northern Ireland. The mood was uplifting with many inspirational stories from a wide variety of businesses and sectors. The common theme was an openness and sharing of experiences – something that has become a hallmark of this event since its inception four years ago. “MSBs have done much of the heavy lifting to drive the economy,” said David Gavaghan, chairman of CBI. “They will be crucial to our future growth and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in

the coming years. Everyone who attended was inspired by the honesty of our speakers, with a number commenting on difficult periods of their business. We all left with a strong conviction that good businesses will thrive in spite of the challenges ahead.” On day one, Bank of Ireland UK Economist Alan Bridle set the scene and posed the question, is it time to redefine business success? One insight he offered was that “the changing landscape provided opportunities for local businesses to invest in skills, infrastructure and exports to compete.” This was echoed by Irish Dragon, Eleanor McEvoy, Chief executive, Budget Energy, who said that she would love to invest in a number of companies who have the natural potential to grow, but for one reason or another, the directors seem to be content staying put. Under Eleanor’s direction, Budget Energy’s turnover has gone from zero to £40m inside five years – and they are now planning to launch into the Republic of Ireland this winter. Denis Lynn, owner of artisan meat producing company, Finnebrogue, gave an inspirational

account of the highs and lows of scaling up and growing a multi-million pound business. Through product development and market penetration, ‘the Finnebrogue Magic’ has steered growth since 2002 - from farmed venison to award-winning sausages produced for and stocked in a number of the UK’s top rated supermarkets, including M&S, Waitrose and ASDA. Martin Agnew, joint managing partner, The Henderson Group, shared his story of how a fourth generation family business can successfully run itself like a Plc. They are focused on growing and investing for the next generation – and it is this culture that has helped drive the company’s success in wholesale, retail foodservice, property and most recently, print. With a strong CSR strategy, the company has successfully grown the SPAR brand.

NI businesses to benefit from extension to 0% APR Energy Efficiency Loan Fund


irms in Northern Ireland wanting to purchase energy efficient equipment to cut costs and environmental impact can continue to access Invest NI’s 0% APR Energy Efficiency Loan Fund for at least two more years. Following an independent review of the scheme’s success over the past 13 years and a competitive tender, the Carbon Trust has been awarded a new contract to extend the loans scheme.

Belfast-based digital agency rises to the top B elfast-based digital agency Engage has been named the Rising Star at the Deloitte Fast 50 Technology Awards as recognition for its significant growth in recent years. Engage designs and implements digital strategies which allow their clients to serve and acquire customers more effectively using web, social, email and mobile channels. The company has delivered digital technology, marketing and ecommerce solutions for leading brands from the UK and Ireland including Power NI, Currys, Irish Ferries, Permanent tsb and Irish Life. “Deloitte’s Fast 50 Technology Awards rank Ireland’s fastest-growing technology companies,” said Steven Cassin, managing director at Engage. “The Rising Star category is open to companies which have been in business for less than four years and we are delighted to have been


recognised in that category. “We have won a number of awards in recent years and to now be singled out as a Rising Star in the Deloitte Fast 50 Technology Awards is outstanding and a testament to the hard work of our team. “It is great to see how much we have achieved in less than four years since establishing ourselves as a preferred digital partner for companies right across Ireland and the UK, but we also realise there is a lot of hard work ahead in order to achieve our ambitious plans for the future.” Stephen Leathem, sales and commercial manager at Engage, said: “We work in partnership with our clients to embrace digital technology and online platforms in order to deliver the best experiences for their customers. “This collaborative approach coupled with our

Sonia Armstrong of Ulster Business is pictured with Steven Cassin and Stephen Leathem from Engage.

knowledge of marketing technologies empowers and enables these ambitious marketing teams to realise huge success online. It is this partnership approach that allows us to drive results that exceed our client expectations and what we hope will sustain our growth in the future.”


Kestrel Foods appoints David Johnson as general manager David Johnson


estrel Foods, the multi-award winning premium dried fruit and nut business which owns the successful Forest Feast and Acti-Snack brands, has appointed David Johnson as general manager. Previously factory manager with the Craigavon based food group Avondale Foods, Johnson was selected following a comprehensive search process

by the senior management team of Kestrel Foods. A 25-year veteran of the food industry, Johnson assumes the role of general manager at a time of tremendous growth for the company. Kestrel Foods continues to achieve a positive growth trajectory with its sales forecast to increase in 2016 by 11.5% and is on course to achieve its turnover target of £20m by 2020. As general manager of Kestrel Foods, he works closely with co-founders Michael and Lorraine Hall to develop and implement the manufacturing strategy and objectives, producing in excess of 160 product combinations which are exported to 36 countries worldwide. This includes the direct control of a diverse range of day-to-day operations at Kestrel Food’s dedicated foodprocessing plant located in Craigavon, including capacity planning, production, supply chain, health and safety, technical and quality assurance, engineering and warehouse operations.

“David steps into this role at an exciting time of accelerating growth for Kestrel Foods,” said Michael Hall, managing director of Kestrel Foods. “David’s vast FMCG experience and proven track record within the industry will greatly assist the team at Kestrel Foods to deliver our ambitious growth strategy as we continue to expand our premium product range and our global reach.” Johnson’s appointment is part of an overall recruitment drive with three positions filled at Kestrel Foods in the last month and three more planned before year end. David Jones was recently appointed as research and development manager, managing research and development projects, across recipe development and manufacturing processes. Maeve Haughey was also recently appointed to the role of digital and marketing executive, responsible for planning activity for Forest Feast and Acti-Snack’s social media channels and executing its planned digital strategy.

Alan Gibson appointed chief commercial officer of Devenish


evenish, an agri-food technology business specialising in delivering innovative nutritional products and solutions for the livestock industry and for human health, has appointed Alan Gibson as chief commercial officer. Gibson has 29 years of experience with Moy Park, where he most recently held the position of UK and Ireland director. In his new position with Devenish, he will be responsible for leading the next phase of the business’ growth through building strategic partnerships with key consumer-focused customers. He joins Devenish, which is headquartered in Belfast and has operations in North America, the UK and Europe, at an exciting phase in its

growth. Exporting to over 40 countries across the globe, Devenish continues to invest significant resources in R&D, which is aligned with its Soil to Society initiative. A recent example is the Devenish innovation behind the world’s first naturally enriched omega-3 chicken, supported by human health studies with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. ‘’Alan Gibson holds a wealth of insight and experience from within the agri-food and FMCG sectors on an international scale,” said Owen Brennan, executive chairman of Devenish. “This will prove extremely valuable for Devenish, as we work with our partners across the food and farming industry.”

Alan Gibson




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

KETTLE launches new Veg Chips range


ith the KETTLE Chips brand worth in excess of £100m in retail sales, up by 7.1% over the last year 1, a number of new products have been launched with the aim of maintaining momentum including Veg Chips. The launch of the KETTLE Veg Chips range is expected to reinvigorate the Veg Chips sector and help retailers maximise the opportunity and drive new customers into the category. The Vegetable Crisps market is currently worth

Ensure your customers have their Christmas essential!

OCEAN SPRAY WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE Enjoy the tangy, yet sweet, taste of cranberry sauce, with whole berries for the full on experience. But don’t hold it back just for the turkey in December. There are lots of great ways to add interest to all sorts of dishes with this wonderfully versatile ingredient. OCEAN SPRAY SMOOTH CRANBERRY SAUCE A great alternative to our Wholeberry sauce, we’ve removed the whole berries to create a sauce with a smoother feel. Our cranberry sauce adds a unique zing in sandwiches or as a taste bud tickler with chicken, ham and pork, whether they are hot or cold. Available from Valeo Foods Northern Ireland. Contact Joanne Beattie, brand manager, for further information on 028 9267 3316.


£15.3m but sales are down by 4.4% year on year1, while 14% of households currently buy into the category (vs 55% for premium potato crisps) highlighting a huge opportunity of 11 million potential households for future growth2. Research indicates that consumers currently find the category confusing to shop, with limited options to choose from3 The new KETTLE Veg Chips sharing range offers a mix of parsnip, sweet potato and beetroot chips in a selection of three tasty seasonings – Lightly Salted, new Honey & Black Pepper and new Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar. “KETTLE Veg Chips represent a fantastic opportunity for retailers to capitalise on the continuing consumer trend towards more premium snacking options,” said Nicola Robinson, Kettle Foods sales director. “As the UK’s number one premium crisp brand, coupled with our seasoning expertise, we are confident that we will delight consumers and drive fantastic growth into the vegetable chips market.” Source: 1 Nielsen data to 10th Sept ’16 2 Nielsen Panel Penetration 52 weeks to 10th Sept ’16 3 White Tiger Consumer Research Feb ‘16

Andrex launches new Classic Clean A

ndrex has launched a significant improvement to its flagship Classic White variant, as well as renaming it Andrex Classic Clean. Designed for a better clean, the new Classic Clean provides thicker and embossed sheets featuring the Andrex logo, while the essential touch of cotton from Andrex Classic White remains. Perfectly balancing softness and strength, the new variant will keep families feeling clean and confident. Classic Clean is the biggest product change in 60 years, and Andrex has carried out more than two years of research with 6,000 consumers and invested millions of pounds in its UK factories.

Snack leader launches first range of flavoured popcorn


ayto, the leading Northern Ireland crisp and snack brand, has launched a fourstrong range of flavoured popcorn. As well as Cinema Sweet, Salted, Sweet and Salted flavours, the fourth Tayto range leverages the company’s longstanding crisp favourite, Tayto Cheese & Onion. Tayto Popcorn sharing bags have an RRP of £1.39 and are now available in Northern Ireland.


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Q&A WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? You don’t have to be it, just do it. As an MD of a business, standing in front of an audience to communicate business progress, strategy etc comes with the territory. I am not particularly fond of being in front of a crowd; however I understand that it is important that I connect with our internal and external people. My boss gave me a great piece of advice – you don’t have to be the person who loves the limelight or holding a room, you just have to communicate as yourself, and the authenticity that brings should command respect from those in the room.

In the Hot Seat Lorraine Butler, managing director of CPM Ireland TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF I am originally from Co Laois and come from a family of eight girls. I spent 20 years living in Dublin but recently returned home to build a house in Laois with my husband. My college background is in Technology & Management and, after a 14year career with eir, I moved to CPM Ireland to take on the managing director role. My career to date has been quite sales and people focused; while I never thought I would end up in the sales arena, it’s most definitely in my DNA and I love what I do. WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE? When dealing with customers, no two days are the same - it’s very hard to get bored in sales! I like to spend as much time as possible with my team, meeting customers, understanding their business challenges and scoping ways to support these challenges. Working with my internal team to understand how we can optimise our business processes and identify new ways of working to take our business into the future, is always on our agenda. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? While in eir Business (formerly eircom), I started as an SME field account manager. Ten years later, after progressing through various roles, I ended up managing and leading all of the eir business sales teams. People are an organisation’s most valuable assets. Eir gave me a fantastic platform to grow and 42

develop and it is something I have tried to bring to any team which I have lead. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love the variety that dealing with customers from various industries brings. While all customers are different, the business drivers and challenges tend to be similar. Our clients work with us because we are deemed to be best in class for selling. I love watching our sales teams focus on client sales targets with such determination, the creativity that they introduce into the sales process and their consistent drive to innovate and improve. This is only possible when we have the right people managers leading our teams and it’s fantastic to watch our people managers from along the sales journey. WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK? Sales is a people business and we rely on our people to bring their best selves to work every day. But human nature isn’t always as logical as we would like! Working to support our people with personal challenges comes as part of CPM’s DNA; however balancing customer delivery with such challenges can be an art. With the improvement in the Irish economy, salary expectations are inflating quite considerably vs what was generally forecast by the market. Managing business profitability and client commercial expectations with increased financial expectations of employees is currently challenging in the Irish market place.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE? Rudeness, particularly that of the workplace hierarchal kind. Everyone in an organisation has a strong part to play in the successful running of an organisation and everyone, regardless of role or position, should be treated with the same respect. This comes with the culture inherent in an organisation – a culture of respect and collaboration is vital for me to enjoy my working life and I have zero tolerance for those who don’t embrace the same values. WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE? I would love to be able to actually remember the words of songs and play the guitar – I love a sing song and get together, but always end up relying on the same couple of songs! WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/ AMBITIONS? I am almost a year with CPM Ireland. I feel I have a very good understanding of our business, our clients and our marketplace at this stage and we have achieved some great things in the past year. I want to take CPM Ireland to great heights in Ireland and take advantage of the rich market place that exists. WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? My parents. They have given my sisters and me the greatest foundation in life and taught us values that I believe stand to us each day. They taught us the value of hard work, perseverance and respect for others and consistently support each of us through our daily lives. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE? At home in Laois with my family, during a family get together with my husband and extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT? Chicken is the staple of most of meals – healthy, agile and tasty! HOW DO YOU RELAX? Catching up on the soaps in the evening/weekends – pure escapism after a busy working day or week!

Now in their 29th

year, the prestigious Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards are open for entry

G rocer Market ingAwards ULSTER



The 2017 Awards feature eight categories designed to showcase the very best the local food and grocery retail industry has to offer:

Best Marketing Campaign 2016 Best In-Store Consumer Sales Promotion Best New Product Launch/Relaunch Best CSR Initiative Charity Partnership Best Brand Best Artisan Foods Campaign Green Retailer of the Year Best Food Export Marketing Award

Winners will be revealed: Friday 19th May Gala Ball, supporting Grocery Aid, Culloden Hotel, Belfast How to enter: Tel: 028 9026 4267 Email:

Closing date for entries: Friday 31st March


Gala Ball

Supporting GroceryAid

Friday 19th May 2017


Naturally sweet and ready to eat snack sized dried fruit Kestrel Foods Ltd., T: +44(0)28 3835 0934 Email:,

Profile for Stuart Gray

Ulster Grocer - December 2016  

Stuart Gray

Ulster Grocer - December 2016  

Stuart Gray