Gourmet Pie Maker Assisted to Exploit New Business Opportunities

Jan 23, 2014

Picture by Parkway Photography

Pictured (L – R) are James McAllister, Jolly Pies, and Olive Hill, Invest NI.

Jolly Pies, the Belfast specialist in gourmet savoury pies, has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop a range of branded products for retail and foodservice.

The company, formed in 2013 by business partners James McAllister and Stephen McComb, used Invest NI design and technical assistance to develop its branding as well as an Innovation Voucher to help it move from a market stall into direct sales to retailers and foodservice operators in Northern Ireland.

The company recently secured its first business in Britain to supply foodservice operations in the London area.

Encouraged by the successful launch of the range of 10 single-serve gourmet pies in Northern Ireland, Jolly Pies is now actively seeking to expand sales in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation and Technical Solutions said: “This is an excellent example of how a smaller business, including artisan firms in food, can diversify and grow business by using several of the expert services that we provide.

“Jolly Pies’ initial range of handmade pies from quality local ingredients attracted very positive feedback which encouraged the small enterprise to approach retailers and foodservice operators about stocking their products.

“We were able to help them with advice and guidance on the steps they needed to take to strengthen their appeal to retailers and foodservice operators particularly in Northern Ireland. This assistance included development of the brand and the Jolly Pie trademark.

“The Innovation Voucher provided £4,000 to work with food experts at the Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Cookstown on essential requirements such as extending the shelf-life of the pies, nutritional information, the formulation of the products, and labelling and packaging for retail sales. The business secured its first retail sales within weeks of completing the Innovation Voucher process.”

James McAllister, Managing Director of Jolly Pies, said: “We’ve created a range of savoury pies which use only the best local ingredients such as premium beef from grass-fed animals and free-range poultry to meet a market opportunity from the growing demand from consumers seeking quality and safe products with heritage and provenance. The business benefits from a longstanding family heritage in farming, food production and catering.

“Feedback from our participation at markets and events such as Ulster Rugby matches and the Giants in the Odyssey led us to approach Invest NI for advice on how best to move the business into retails sales especially in delis, independents and farm shops across Northern Ireland.

“Invest NI’s expert assistance through the Design Development Programme, Technical Development Incentive Scheme and the Innovation Voucher gave us the knowledge and confidence to move successfully into retailing. We’ve been helped to develop a very strong and contemporary branding that is proving attractive to retailers and consumers in Northern Ireland.

“CAFRE helped us to validate the quality of the pies in terms of ingredients and flavours and guidance of manufacturing and packaging operations. Our aim will be to build on this support and to expand sales that we’ve already developed here, to exploit further opportunities in Northern Ireland and to explore the market in the Republic of Ireland. We believe that we can certainly compete successfully and profitably there.”

Jolly Pies is a spin out of an award winning restaurant and bar, the Morning Star, in Belfast owned by Mr McAllister’s family over many years.

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