Foster praises Magherafelt bakery on rising sales


Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has praised a Magherafelt bakery for almost doubling its sales through a commitment to export, innovation and a strong customer focus.

Speaking during a visit to McErlain’s Bakery, which produces a range of artisan products under the Genesis Crafty brand, Arlene Foster said the company had also created 66 new jobs over the past two years as part of an ambitious growth plan backed by Invest Northern Ireland.

The Minister said: “McErlain’s Bakery is a superb example of a company in a traditional sector which has reinvented itself to become among the most progressive of its type in the UK. The bakery has achieved this through continuous investment and new product development.

“McErlain’s has also embraced the latest marketing techniques, having created a dynamic and engaging website, a blog and a unique web-based game.

“The company has an impressive track record of success outside Northern Ireland and has won business from major grocery retailers including Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco. Over the past two years, McErlain’s has achieved an impressive 90% growth in turnover and increased sales to Britain by 270%.”

Arlene Foster said the quality and diversity of the range produced by McErlain’s Bakery meant it was in an excellent position to give consumers what they wanted.

The Minister added: “A key factor in the company’s success in all its markets is a strong commitment to working as closely as possible with customers in quickly developing new products for consumers.

“A sharp focus on marketing enables McErlain’s to pinpoint opportunities for innovative products that it can then pitch to category buyers in major retailers throughout the UK and Ireland.

“The quality and innovation underpinning the bakery’s extensive product portfolio have also been endorsed by the UK Guild of Fine Foods in the prestigious Great Taste Awards.”

Mr Brian McErlain, Managing Director of McErlain’s Bakery, said: “We launched our expansion programme in 2009 and have exceeded our targets on all fronts. This has been achieved through an intimate understanding of our markets and customer base alongside our investment in people and systems that enable us firstly to identify new market opportunities and then to respond quickly and flexibly to them.

“While we have invested substantially in all aspects of marketing we have sought to maintain a well thought-through and clear band proposition as a premium quality artisan bakery - an approach which emphasises the family heritage of six brothers and provenance of all our products.

“By combining this heritage and commitment to quality products from the best ingredients with contemporary marketing techniques we’ve set ourselves apart from competitors in what is a very fast moving and challenging marketplace,” he added.

McErlain’s Bakery began as a simple home bakery which has held on to its initial ethos and values as well as its artisan approach.

The Genesis brand was launched in 1998 to develop and market a new range of breads to reinforce its image as an artisan bakery with a commitment to innovative products.

In 2009, Invest NI provided financial support for a £1.4million expansion plan to help increase productivity, develop new products and roll out a new marketing strategy.

McErlain’s Bakery currently employs 173 people at Magherafelt and has also strengthened its management and marketing teams. Invest NI has provided Selective Financial Assistance of £143,000 towards the company’s expansion.