Claudy-based Seasonharvest is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop sales of its pre-packed fruit and vegetables in the Republic of Ireland.
Seasonharvest is investing £58,000 to develop its export marketing capability and to enable them to build on the 10 per cent growth they have experienced over the past year. Invest NI has offered £23,148 to assist the company to implement a programme of marketing initiatives, including the further development of its online sales.
The expansion was announced by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, and has already created eight new jobs at the company which now employs 32 people.
The business, which is now managed by Operations Manager, Kienan McLaughlin, and Sales Manager, Diarmaid McLaughlin, was established as McLaughlin’s Fruit and Vegetable Wholesalers by Kevin, their father, in 1973.
Around 90 per cent of the fruit and vegetables used by the company are sourced from local suppliers.
Mr Mawhinney said: “Seasonharvest is a good example of a smaller business which has diversified successfully into the development of pre-packed products for sale both locally and in the Republic of Ireland.
“Our assistance is geared to help the company to develop its product processing operations for export to existing and potential customers in the Republic. It has already established a solid platform for growth in Donegal where it has successfully tendered to supply pre-packed fruit and vegetables to schools, hospitals and residential homes there.
“The success this entrepreneurial business is experiencing in Donegal has encouraged the directors to implement an investment programme geared to an expansion into other Republic of Ireland border counties.
“Our support is in line with Invest NI’s strategic focus on assisting entrepreneurial businesses with a commitment to new product development for export markets. The investment is also a significant boost for local suppliers and is bringing tangible benefits including greater employment opportunities to a rural community,” added Mr Mawhinney.
Kienan McLaughlin, commenting on the company’s expansion, said: “Our objective in making this investment is to more than double sales of our pre-packed products outside Northern Ireland. This growth should push pre-packed sales well beyond the current level of 40 per cent of our overall business.
“We believe that this is achievable because we have competed successfully, particularly for major public contracts, in terms of quality, service and value for money.
“By investing in the latest IT system and building on the success we are experiencing in Northern Ireland we aim to achieve a significant expansion in our home delivery business in the Republic’s border counties. We are operating in an intensely competitive market and are keen to harness the latest web-based technology to enable us to stay ahead of competitors.
“Invest NI’s financial assistance and practical support is enabling us to develop the overall marketing skills, knowledge and technology that will help us to grow our business and create employment in the Claudy area,” he added.