Top Irish food entrepreneur seeking Northern Ireland suppliers

Invest Northern Ireland brought leading Irish food entrepreneur Joe Doyle to Belfast this week to source new suppliers from Northern Ireland for stores in the greater Dublin area.

Mr Doyle owns two Donnybrook Fair gourmet food stores in South Dublin and several Londis supermarkets. He is also Vice Chairman of the Londis Group of more than 360 owner-managed symbol supermarkets which spent upwards of £750 million last year on food products.

Donnybrook Fair food stores are based on such premium food retailing concepts as Dean and Deluca in New York and London’s Vallandry, Market and Fresh Chain and is unique on the island of Ireland.

The food hall has a focus on fresh, organic and speciality foods and has a highly regarded Donnybrook Fair Café, a gourmet restaurant that also caters for dinners and private parties.  The company also runs a very successful gift catalogue and provides a range of premium hampers.

Around 20 local food companies responded to an invitation from Invest NI to attend the latest ‘meet the buyer’ event to show their products to Mr Doyle and to pitch for business. The products on display ranged from beef, lamb and chicken to pates, ready meals and desserts.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Food, says: “This visit is a further example of the benefits resulting from our decision to appoint a marketing adviser in the Republic, an initiative which is spreading awareness of the quality, variety, freshness and innovation that is to be found within the Northern Ireland food processing sector.

“Donnybrook Fair is justifiably regarded in the Dublin area as one of the most important retailers of upscale food and drink products.

“It has become a magnet for consumers seeking something very special in taste and wholesomeness. I am confident that many of the companies which took part in the meetings will do business with Donnybrook Fair, because I believe that we have food and drink products which compare well with the other gourmet foods that the company sources from international suppliers.

“Over the past six months, we’ve brokered meetings for Northern Ireland food companies with major retailers in the Republic such as Tesco Ireland and Joyce’s365 supermarkets and distribution organizations such as Pallas Foods. Further initiatives are planned which will also enable our companies to reach key buyers of other top retailers in the Republic and Great Britain.” Mr Mawhinney adds.