Crossgar foodservice wins major deal in Republic

Copyright: John Harrison Photography

Pictured with Tracy Meharg, Invest NI, is Michael Morrissey, Managing Director of Crossgar Food Services.

Crossgar Foodservice has won a €1 million contract to supply poultry, pork and bacon products to the Health Service Executive in Dublin over the next three years, with support from Invest Northern Ireland.

Crossgar secured the prestigious deal, the most recent in a series of contracts in the Republic, following its participation in a recent Invest NI pilot programme on public procurement.

The company, which employs over 250 people in the area, took part in the Invest NI programme to strengthen its ability to compete for public procurement contracts in the Republic. The programme included expert guidance on a one-to-one basis on how to develop a winning tender.

Crossgar Foodservice also used Invest NI’s unique contract alert service that provided early tip-offs to companies as soon as tenders were posted by public procurement agencies in the Republic and Great Britain.

Michael Morrissey, Crossgar Foodservice’s Managing Director, described the Invest NI public procurement programme, as “immensely beneficial”.

Mr Morrissey said: “While we have won a number of procurement contracts in the Republic, which currently accounts for 30 per cent of our business, the Invest NI programme helped us to sharpen our skills and knowledge for preparing all the necessary documents, usually required online.  Over the years, I’ve also benefited from practical advice on tendering provided through Invest NI.

“The recent public procurement programme was excellent in that it enabled us to access expert guidance about our approach to tendering and to benefit from alerts about upcoming tenders.  The networking opportunity that it provided with other local companies was first class. This enabled me to pinpoint potential partners for joint bids in the future.”

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, welcoming Crossgar Foodservice’s success, said: “We launched the public procurement programme as a pilot to see how many local food companies would be interested in bidding for such contracts which can be very substantial. Public procurement opportunities in Great Britain and the Republic can be extremely lucrative and can also involve significant volumes.

“Another reason for us launching the programme was to provide a framework to enable smaller companies here to collaborate on tenders. We recognised that not all our companies have the experience or capacity of Crossgar Foodservice to cope with the substantial volumes and that many smaller companies have been reluctant to bid individually for such business. There are now encouraging signs that companies, which took part in the programme, are beginning to join forces to bid for contracts.

“The programme, furthermore, is an excellent example of Invest NI’s integrated approach to helping smaller companies in particular to win more business outside Northern Ireland. Participating companies were able to strengthen their capability through expert guidance on tender documentation and then to benefit from a fast alert service designed to give them more time to complete their tenders.”

Contracts won in the Republic have helped Crossgar Foodservice, which had sales of over £40 million last year, to achieve annual growth of 25 per cent over the past few years. The company has also gained a string of prestigious awards including Great Taste Awards for products such as its Dexter beef and Lissara Farm ducks. In 2009 Crossgar Foodservice also won the Institute of Hospitality’s “Supplier of the Year Award”, fighting off stiff competition from some of the largest foodservice businesses in Ireland.