Picture by Parkway Photography
Pictured (L – R) are Catherine Johnston, Jenny Lowry and Dorothy Bittles of Blackthorn Foods, with Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI.
Handmade gourmet fudge and fondue specialist, Blackthorn Foods, from Belfast, has won first time business in the Netherlands with assistance from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company, based in east Belfast, has begun supplying its complete range of award winning products to Rosenberg Import BV in Roosendaal, near Eindhoven, following its engagement in Invest NI's 'Going Dutch' initiative.
The business in the Netherlands, Blackthorn’s first in Europe outside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, was announced by Jenny Lowry, who founded the company in 2004 with her sisters Dorothy Bittles and Cathy Johnson, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.
Blackthorn Foods, which has gained a string of UK Great Taste Awards, has also recently secured its first sales from a leading wholesaler in Dubai.
Mrs Lowry said: "The new business breakthrough in the Netherlands is the outcome of a marketing drive to grow business in key European markets and builds on our success in Great Britain, most recently with Partridges, the high-end food store in London's Kensington district, as well as in the Republic of Ireland.
"We’ve been exploring opportunities for our products in Europe for some time and decided to focus on the Netherlands. It’s a market that’s easy accessed from Northern Ireland by air and one in which consumers appreciate premium quality confectionery that we produce.
"Invest NI's Going Dutch support was invaluable in the help and guidance provided by their in-market advisors in Amsterdam. We were helped with essential market information, guidance on how to do business in the Netherlands and assistance in pinpointing Rosenberg as a partner.
“Rosenberg is a good fit for us because of its successful track record and distribution network. We will be working closely with the Rosenberg team on promotional activities to help in developing sales throughout the country. The Netherlands, in addition, is an ideal platform for expansion into other neighbouring markets."
Dr Kell said: "Blackthorn's success in the Netherlands is a further example of the role of our in-market consultants in assisting and supporting small and medium sized companies particularly in food, one of our most significant manufacturing sectors. Assisting SMEs in food to explore and grasp business opportunities, especially those developing in Europe, is an Invest NI strategic priority. In addition to initiatives such as Going Dutch, our recently launched Trade Calendar features 17 events for the sector including opportunities to take part in major international food exhibitions.
"Food companies will also be able to explore developing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China by taking part in 20 trade missions planned over the next year."