The Speciality Bread Company in Bangor recently tasted its first export success by winning a contract to supply its range of handcrafted breads and rolls to a leading food services company in the Republic of Ireland.
The deal with the Really Good Food Company in Dublin, which could be worth around £100,000 over the next few years, will see the North Down firm’s products on tables in many of Dublin’s leading hotels and restaurants.
The contract was announced by Neil Evans, a director of The Speciality Bread Company, formed by Mr Evans and his fellow director Paul Galloway in October 2003 to develop a range of quality bread products, including foccacia and ciabatta type breads.
Said Mr Evans: “We were contacted by the Really Good Food Company, which had heard about our successes in a number of food awards, including the Janus Awards for Professionalism run by the Northern Ireland branch of the Hotel and Catering International Management Association and the Bangor Business Awards.
“We were asked to supply samples of our products and initial orders were then placed by the Really Good Food Company. The contract is a huge boost for us as we seek to expand our sales in the Republic of Ireland, as well as in Northern Ireland, where a number of up-market food retailers and specialist restaurants currently sell the products. We’ve also had approaches from a number of retail chains.”
Mr Evans said the company had received startup financial assistance, marketing support and mentoring advice from a range of Invest Northern Ireland programmes.
“Invest NI has been both responsive and extremely supportive. We’ve been encouraged to focus on measures that will help ensure the long term growth of the business in terms of sales, profitability, product development and employment. We’ve been assisted with marketing, management and new product development,” he added.
Maurice Patterson, manager of Invest NI’s Eastern Local Office, said: “This is very encouraging news for this recently formed company. It has identified a gap in the market for the distinctive products of an artisan bakery and is also demonstrating its commitment to growth by investing in exports and R&D projects that include innovative products, particularly for health conscious consumers. We’ve also assisted the company in developing a relationship with Loughry College on new products.
“Over the past two years, Invest NI and its enterprise agency partners have assisted around 5,000 new business starts, such as The Speciality Bread Company, throughout Northern Ireland. Over 100 companies have also entered export markets, including the Republic of Ireland, with encouragement and support from Invest NI,” he added.