Photography: Press Eye Photography
In picture is, (left), Maynard Mawhinney, Head of Food and Tourism, Invest NI, and Thomas Morgan, Sales Manager at Classic Mineral Water Company.
Classic Mineral Water Company in Lurgan has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to win business in the US for its sparkling and flavoured water products that could be worth £250,000 this year.
The company is supplying sparkling water and a range of flavoured waters to Big Lots of Columbus, Ohio, one of the biggest US retail chains, following an initial lead from an Invest NI Food Sector Marketing Adviser.
The US business was announced by Thomas Morgan, Classic Mineral’s Sales Manager, and welcomed by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Head of Food and Tourism.
Mr Mawhinney said: “This is a very encouraging contract for Classic Minerals in one of the world’s most competitive markets for food and drink. It is an excellent example of the role of our team of four Food Sector Marketing Advisers in helping to generate new export leads for companies in food and drink, our biggest manufacturing sector, and one that’s increasingly seeking to secure greater sales outside the UK and Ireland.
“The marketing advisers helped generate new business in excess of £12 million last year for Northern Ireland food and drink companies, many of which were new to export markets.
“Classic Minerals responded quickly and very effectively to the lead by contacting the relevant buyer at Big Lots, sending samples, setting up a face-to-face meeting and winning what could prove to be immensely important business for this ambitious, export-focused company,” added Mr Mawhinney.
Mr Morgan, commenting on the US contract, said: “Winning business from a corporation of the size of Big Lots is a marvellous boost for us. It gives us an immensely important foothold in a market that we’ve been targeting for some time. Big Lots has a network of 1,400 stores in 47 US states and recently acquired a business in Canada.
“The buying team at Big Lots was extremely supportive in helping us to comply with the requirements of the US Food and Drink Administration, handle paperwork, shipping arrangements and resolve some minor labelling issues. The contract also involved us developing a new one litre bottle which suited their sales strategy.
“What appealed to them was the essential provenance and Irish heritage of both our sparkling and flavoured waters, which use spring water sourced from our own artesian wells on the site of our bottling plant in Lurgan. They recognised that they could count on us to provide quality products over which we have total control.
“The buyers also appreciated that we were keen to do business with them and were prepared to work with them on developing products that met their specific requirements. Companies have to be flexible and responsive to secure business in this extremely important marketplace. As a result of our approach, they have responded by placing repeat business over the past six months,” added Mr Morgan.