Larne manufacturer sells candy floss to US

Larne-based Intermatic Manufacturing has won a series of contracts to supply its unique fresh candy floss vending system to major restaurant/entertainment centre operators in the US. Among Intermatic’s new customers is Dave and Buster’s, an operator of around 60 upmarket entertainment complexes which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

The latest contracts, worth more than £500,000, for Intermatic’s automatic coin operated system follow the company’s participation in a major trade exhibition in Florida, which was supported by Invest Northern Ireland’s Trade teams in Belfast and Boston.

The vending system, designed and manufactured in Northern Ireland, is fully automatic and has unique features including a patented moistening process that enhances product quality, bio-degradable paper sticks and global mobile comms technology, (GSM), for remote management and monitoring of individual machines.

The system was developed by David Hawthorne, Intermatic’s Managing Director, an electronics engineer with international companies including Texas Instruments, who set up the business in 1997 to design games and other entertainment industry products.

“I’ve been involved in the entertainment business for many years and have designed a number of quiz products and other games that were purchased by operators in the UK. This experience and knowledge of the industry helped me to identify a business opportunity for a new type of

candy floss vending machine with several innovative features that were influenced by the views of existing operators.

“I began working on the machine about five years ago and produced a prototype for a trade show at Earl’s Court in London earlier in the year. Feedback was excellent and a number were ordered by major operators, it was this success which encouraged me to explore opportunities in the US, the world’s biggest market for candy floss, or cotton candy as it is known there. Our machine, I am convinced, is currently the only one of its type in the world.

“Invest NI was immensely supportive and helped us with essential market research and lead generation. Indeed the Boston office encouraged potential customers from all over the US to come and meet us there. This led to some very important deals and other serious contacts which we are now actively pursuing. They’ve all been impressed by the quality of the candy floss from the machine and the very positive business benefits for operators,” he adds.

Welcoming Intermatic’s success in the US, Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Director of Trade, says: “This is an immensely encouraging development for a small company in the world’s biggest marketplace for entertainment and leisure products and services. Some very high profile customers have been attracted by the company’s focus on innovation and quality service. The company has used a variety of practical support services from our Passport to Export portfolio, including essential expert advice, market research and lead generation from our Boston office.”

Intermatic Manufacturing has also supplied machines to Kuwait and New Zealand and has received enquiries from the Far East. UK customers include Odeon Cinemas, Butlins and Alton Towers. The company currently employs four people in Larne.