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Hillstown Brewery says ‘cheers’ to new Tesco NI listing 
  • Posted 2 months ago

Northern Irish Craft Beer Company Secures £90k Listing with Tesco NI

The Antrim based drinks company, Hillstown Brewery, has secured a listing with Tesco Northern Ireland that will see the leading retailer stock an extended range of its handcrafted beer in stores across the province, with sales of more than £90K forecasted for the first year.

Based in Randalstown, Hillstown Brewery is a small-scale microbrewery that produces handcrafted, unique beer direct from the farm.  On the back of the new listing with Tesco NI, Hillstown Brewery has invested in a larger brewing system to keep up with the demand of its expanded consumer base.

Starting with an unusual introduction to the world of craft brewing, the food and drinks company started with the intention to brew beer to feed cattle in order to produce Wagyu beef; however the demand for its beer resulted in Hillstown Brewery making the finest craft beer for humans too.

The new listing with Tesco NI means that the retailer will now stock the full range of Hillstown Beers. The brand’s uniquely named Massey Red Ale, The Drunken Donkey Lager, and The Squealing Pig IPA will join The Spitting Llama Belgian Ale, The Goats Butt Wheat Beer and The Horny Bull Stout on Tesco shelves across Northern Ireland.

Jonathan McWhinney ‎Packaged Food Buying Manager, Tesco Northern Ireland, said “The Northern Irish craft beer culture continues to grow and, in support of that, Tesco now stocks over 30 local beers, ales and stout on its shelves in Northern Ireland. We find that our customers are increasingly willing to buy premium beers, especially if they are from local Northern Irish brands. We are delighted to stock these additional lines from Hillstown Brewery and expand our relationship with them, as they give our shoppers more flavours to choose from – while furthering our commitment to supporting local food and drink.”

The iconic Northern Irish beers from Hillstown Brewery are available from selected Tesco stores across Northern Ireland.

Tesco spends almost £590 million on Northern Irish products each year. It has over 1,200 local product lines on its shelves produced over by 90 suppliers and 6,000 farmers.  For more information on local Northern Irish food and recipes, visit, Tesco Northern Ireland’s new online magazine that celebrates local food and drink.


Tesco NI supports ‘re-gin-eration’ of craft spirit industry with Belfast 1912 Cask Gin listing 
  • Posted 3 months ago

Northern Irish Craft Gin Company Secures £250k Listing with Tesco NI

The Northern Irish drinks company, BOTL Ltd, has secured a listing with Tesco that means its Belfast 1912 Cask Gin is stocked in Tesco stores across Northern Ireland, with sales of more than £250,000 forecasted for the first year, which will please the rising number of gin aficionados in the province.

A secret spirit recipe circa 1912 was discovered in 1994 and research confirmed it was connected to the old Avoniel Distillery in Belfast.  After several years in development, Avoniel Distillers Ltd finally launched Belfast 1912 Cask Gin onto the market under the Belfast 1912 Cask Gin brand in recent years.

Belfast 1912 Cask Gin is a perfectly balanced classic Juniper-led gin London Dry Gin with a dry mid-palate. The new listing with Tesco NI reinforces Belfast 1912 Gin Cask’s position as a premium craft gin that delivers both in flavour as well as classic design.

Conor O’Neill, Sales Director of BOTL Ltd, the global distributor for Belfast 1912 Cask Gin, said: “Since we launched Belfast 1912 Cask Gin, it has been a goal of the company to secure a listing with a large retailer such as Tesco. We are delighted we will now see our distinctive blue bottle on the shelves of Tesco stores across the province. A listing like this has introduced many new customers to the product and we are thrilled with the positive response so far.”

Jonathan McWhinney ‎Packaged Food Buying Manager, Tesco Northern Ireland, said “The Northern Irish love affair with craft gin continues to grow and when you marry the resurgence of the spirit with our customers’ desire for locally sourced products – it meant the decision to stock Belfast Cask Gin was an easy one. The Northern Irish palate has changed and our shoppers want something more than just a great taste, they want a premium experience, and a gin that deserves to be savoured – Belfast 1912 Cask Gin delivers all that and more and we are delighted to bring it to our customers.”

Belfast Cask Gin is available in a distinctive blue 70cl bottle ‘from selected Tesco stores across Northern Ireland.

Tesco spends almost £590 million on Northern Irish products each year. It has over 1,200 local product lines on its shelves produced over by 90 suppliers and 6,000 farmers.  For more information on local Northern Irish food and recipes, visit, Tesco Northern Ireland’s new online magazine that celebrates local food and drink.


  • Posted 3 months ago

Portadown-based potato producer sees 10% lift in turnover and profits rise

Wilson’s Country Ltd enjoyed measured growth in the 12-month period to July 2016, according to accounts published this week.

The Portadown company saw turnover increase by around 10% with pre-tax profit for the same period rising from £225,347 to £448,469.

CEO, Angus Wilson described the performance as ‘steady within a challenging marketplace’ during a period when the cost of purchasing potatoes had almost doubled from the start to the end of the season due to crop shortages.

Mr Wilson highlighted the brand’s commitment to innovation as a key contributor to the company’s ‘encouraging’ growth.

“During the course of 2016 we introduced a number of innovative fresh chilled convenience products to the Irish retail sector under our new brand ‘You Say Potato’. These include fresh prepared chips, peeled potatoes ready for the microwave, baby potatoes with Irish herb and garlic butter and sweet potato..

“The Wilson’s business model is about ensuring we are offering customers taste, convenience, range and value for money.

“We have been delighted with the support from retailers and the way consumers have embraced our new products. We are in ongoing discussions with our customers in relation to further possible listings. Furthermore, we plan to continue with our investment in infrastructure and marketing initiatives for the remainder of 2017 and beyond.”

Mr Wilson said the outlook was good for 2017 with early indications of a healthy crop due to the recent ideal weather of sunshine and showers. The 2017 cropping season has just commenced with local Comber now fresh on the shelves.

The Wilson’s brand has a long and proud tradition. From its roots, starting off as a single line serving a small section of the rural Armagh community, it is now one of the best-known potato brands in Ireland, supplying most of the major retailers across the island. It also supplies a full range of peeled and chipped potatoes to a wide range of customers in the catering sector in Ireland.

The original company which was established in 1986 by Angus Wilson and currently works with around 20 potato growers and employs more than 70 people direct.

Stephen Magill appointed Commercial Manager at Tesco Northern Ireland 
  • Posted 4 months ago

Stephen Magill, former regional manager for Tesco Express stores with Northern Ireland, has been appointed Tesco NI commercial manager.

Stephen Magill’s appointment will see him lead a commercial buying team at Tesco Northern Ireland’s regional office in Newtownabbey.  In his role, Stephen will be responsible for all the commercial functions within Northern Ireland including the procurement of local food and drink products, currently almost £590m per annum.

He will further the retailer’s strong relationships with suppliers and key stakeholders within Northern Ireland’s food and drinks industry to enhance the its compelling local offer.

Stephen Magill, a native of Banbridge, Co. Down, joined Tesco in 1993 and during that time Stephen has held several different positions in management, including his most recent position, Tesco Express regional manager, responsible for 19 Express stores across Northern Ireland, including the recently opened University Street store in Belfast.

Stephen Magill said: “I am very honoured to take up the role of commercial manager at Tesco Northern Ireland. This is a particularly exciting role within Tesco as we are the only part of the Tesco UK business to have a region-based buying team and that is testament to the wealth of produce available here and in recognition of how important Northern Irish food and drink is to local customers and the industry. During my long career with Tesco, I have seen how it has supported, and partnered with local food and drink businesses, helping to bring their products to market, both here and in our GB stores, and I am really excited to be part of that continued journey.”

Commenting on the reasons for Mr Magill’s appointment, Brendan Guidera, Store Director at Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “Stephen brings a wealth of expertise and industry experience to his new role as commercial manager. He has been a key member of what is a strong local leadership team for several years and prior to that, he worked as part of the international Tesco business in central Europe.”

Stephen has a proven track record of delivering results, leading from the front and always focusing on giving our customers the best overall value, experience, and range of local produce and we are excited to see him use his invaluable knowledge in his new role as commercial manager in NI.”

Tesco Northern Ireland is the number one retail champion of local food and drink with over 1,200 local product lines on its shelves produced over by 90 suppliers and 6,000 farmers.

For more information on local Northern Irish food, visit, Tesco Northern Ireland’s new online magazine that celebrates local food and drink.

New MD for leading Belfast law firm 
  • Posted 4 months ago

New Managing Director at Cleaver Fulton Rankin will lead the firm on its growth trajectory

Leading Belfast law firm, Cleaver Fulton Rankin has announced bold strategic expansion plans over the next three years following the appointment of a new Managing Director.

Current director, Jonathan Forrester will take over the reins of the commercial practice – which is one of the longest established in the city – from 1st May.

He has worked for Cleaver Fulton Rankin since 1999, having joined the firm as a graduate from Queen’s University, with both a law degree and a MSc in Information Management. He was admitted as a Solicitor to the Court of Judicature in Northern Ireland in 2001, became a partner in Cleaver Fulton Rankin in 2008 and a director upon the incorporation of the firm in 2011.

The Managing Director role is rotated among current directors and he will replace fellow director Karen Blair who will become Chairman after her six year stint at the helm.

Jonathan Forrester specialises in commercial litigation, real estate litigation, disputes about wills and trusts, professional negligence, debt recovery and contentious construction, all of which by their nature are very complex and contentious issues.

Some of his key successes for the firm include a multi-million pound class action on behalf of 66 residents of Rossorry Quay, Enniskillen against a developer, landlord, structural engineer, building contractor and specialist sub-contractor. Damages in excess of £6 million were recovered on behalf of the residents. He has also acted in a dispute between joint venture partners in connection with a landmark commercial property, which settled for a sum in excess of £100 million.

Mr Forrester has been described by clients as having “obvious talent and commitment”. He has been ranked highly by leading law directory Chambers every year since 2007 for dispute resolution and latterly in the field of real estate litigation. According to Chambers’ interviewees, he is “keen to get involved and make it happen – energy is the word with him”. He has also been described as having the “ability to instantly pick out the key points in a dispute”. He is “renowned for his aptitude at complex, high value contentious property matters” and is “highly accomplished in the handling of real estate litigation and probate disputes”.  Another leading law directory Legal 500 has also described him as a “truly excellent litigator” and an “impressive tactician”. And it is this experience and his ‘can do’ attitude which leaves him very well placed to take over the lead role in the firm, as it continues on a growth trajectory.

Mr Forrester commented: “I am very proud to become Managing Director of this excellent firm, and to be taking over from Karen who has led us so well over the past six years.  We are a forward looking business, constantly evolving to service our ever-changing market.  We have made some recent highly experienced additions to our team, and this trend will continue as we execute our plans in the coming months and years.  With this solid team of talent, our business will continue to grow, for the benefit of clients and indeed for the wider business community.”

Mr Forrester continued: “Since 2010 we’ve grown our team numbers by almost a third. People have described CFR as a sleeping giant but we are confident that will not be the case for much longer.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of launching a number of new services for our clients. We have put in place a market-leading commercial team to help our clients navigate their way through the challenges BREXIT will bring over the next few years and to ensure they are best-placed to exploit the opportunities that will present themselves.”

The confirmation of the new Managing Director follows the recent appointment of Hilary Griffith as Head of Corporate.

Tesco NI ‘beefs up’ its local range with new Doherty & Gray-produced Tesco burger listings 
  • Posted 4 months ago

~ Doherty & Gray sign £350,000 deal with Tesco NI to produce new local burger range ~

Ballymena based meat company, Doherty & Gray, has secured a significant new listing with leading retailer, Tesco Northern Ireland. The company will produce a range of Tesco Finest-branded burgers and Tesco beef burgers to selected Tesco stores across Northern Ireland, developed with support from Tesco NI Technical Manager Leanne Black. The contract will be worth around £350,000 in it’s first year to the Co. Antrim food firm, and will introduce locally-produced burgers to the shelves just in time for the barbecue season!

The listing has increased Doherty & Gray’s annual business with Tesco Northern Ireland by around 30% and the addition of two more employees to it’s staff of 90. This follows a company decision to invest approximately £200,000 in the latest production and packaging equipment as part of a continual improvement programme which will allow the company to fully engage in further strategic growth opportunities.

Doherty & Gray, which has been in business for 63 years, first started to supply Tesco in Northern Ireland 20 years ago. Apart from the Finest burgers, Doherty & Gray supplies Tesco Northern Ireland with several other lines, including its renowned Hull’s Vegetable Roll, Tesco Finest Sausages, and Tesco Butcher’s Choice sausages and burgers.

Speaking about the production methods, Alan McKeown, the company’s commercial sales manager, said: “Superior production techniques were used to give customers a rustic burger with an open texture for an enhanced eating experience. We have used store cupboard fresh ingredients where possible to deliver a fantastic burger experience. For example, the Finest Chilli Flavoured Beef Steak Burger is a made using fresh chilli and scotch bonnet puree giving it a flavoursome fiery taste, the Finest Caramelised Onion Beef Steak Burger used fresh onions and delivers a meaty burger with a sweet, onion aroma and the Finest Beef & Pepper Steak Burger delivers a meaty flavour with prominent black pepper heat the whole way through. Each burger has a unique and delicious flavour.”

“The company has a highly skilled workforce and prides itself on making the highest quality sausages and burgers to be enjoyed by consumers. The Tesco Finest Burgers will all be made using locally sourced Northern Ireland Beef.” Alan added.

Leanne Black, Technical Manager from Tesco Northern Ireland said: “At Tesco Northern Ireland, we are extremely proud of this new investment with Doherty & Gray as it is another step in our commitment to the local farming and agri-food community. It also gives Tesco NI another opportunity to bring an excellent product to our customers, made with the best ingredients, at an affordable price.”

Tesco spends almost £590 million on Northern Irish products each year. It has over 1,200 local product lines on its shelves produced over by 90 suppliers and 6,000 farmers.

For more information on local Northern Irish food and recipes, visit, Tesco Northern Ireland’s new online magazine that celebrates local food and drink.


Full list of the new range:

Tesco Finest 6oz Beef steak burger  

Tesco Finest 4 x 4oz Beef steak burgers 454g  

Tesco Finest 6 x 4oz Beef steak burgers 681g  

Finest 4 X4oz Black Pepper Steak Burger 454g  

Finest 4 X4oz Caramelised Onion Steak Burger 454g

Finest 4 X4oz Chilli Flavoured Steak Burger 454g  

Tesco Beef burgers 4 x 4oz 454g  

Tesco Beef burgers 6 x 4oz 681g  


Wake up to…local 
  • Posted 5 months ago

Tesco Northern Ireland surprises residents of Belfast street
It was no ordinary morning for the residents of one Belfast street, as they woke to find an uniquely Northern Irish parcel at every door.

To celebrate the launch of its new online magazine – NI Food Love Stories ( – Tesco Northern Ireland delivered the surprise foodie gifts to Lisbon Street, just east of the city centre, as the sun rose over Belfast.

Hampers full to the brim of local food and drink were left on doorsteps before the first curtain was pulled and included products from Punjana and Tayto; baking greats, Genesis and Scott’s; as well as artisanal craft cider and beer brands – an emerging specialism here in the region.

NI Food Love Stories is the first online magazine of its kind in the Province.

Full of local supplier profiles and news, tips from local chefs and recipes using the best local produce, it is designed to be the go-to hub for anyone passionate about local food and drink.

NI Food Love Stories from SERIOUS PR on Vimeo.
Caoimhe Mannion, Marketing Manager, Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “Tesco Northern Ireland is proud to have been the No1 retail champion of local food and drink for 20 years.

“During our 20th anniversary year in Northern Ireland, we wanted to go one step further in our support for the local food industry and so, have created NI Food Love Stories – a dedicated food and drink magazine.

“What better way to celebrate its launch than by surprising households with a specially created local food and drink hamper, and creating a sense of community as we start the journey of building our online community through NI Food Love Stories.”

NI Food Love Stories is a fully mobile optimised site, recognising the way in which people consume information. It comprises of a mix of independently written articles, guest blogs, video content and a twitter feed reflecting the latest trending news and updates from some of Northern Ireland’s foodie influencers.

To subscribe, visit

McAvoy recognised for excellence across the board at 2017 SERC Awards 
  • Posted 6 months ago

Lisburn local, Stuart Marshall, has been named Apprentice of the Year 2017 by South Eastern Regional College, with his current employer, The McAvoy Group being awarded the SERC Business Excellence Award.
The annual Student Excellence Awards, which celebrate the achievements of the highest performing students, commended Stuart for his commitment to learning and dedication to personal development and The McAvoy Group for its continued support of students.
Stuart began an apprenticeship with specialist offsite construction firm, The McAvoy Group, in April 2016 and completed his Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Site Carpentry in August. During his time at McAvoy, Stuart gained hands-on experience and witnessed pioneering methods unique to the industry. Stuart credited his apprenticeship with McAvoy for allowing him to excel in his course;
“The skills learned during my time with McAvoy has helped me with my course and allowed me to apply the understanding of a practical live factory environment into the classroom.
“Having the opportunity to work on some of McAvoy’s major projects, like the Lynch Hill Enterprise Academy, has given me invaluable experience. I’m very proud to be recognised for my work and I’m looking forward to continuing my training with McAvoy.”
McAvoy partnered with SERC in 2016 and is a major employer for the SERC Carpentry & Joinery Department, with further plans to employ additional apprentices in 2017.
Production manager at McAvoy, Colin Walsh co-ordinates the apprentice placements at the company and said:
“We’re committed to training and enhancing students’ experience at the South Eastern Regional College. Stuart started with us last year and we immediately noticed his drive to learn and develop his skills and are proud to see that he has been rewarded for his dedication.
“Stuart has become a valued member of the McAvoy team and this award is a testament to his commitment to his work. Everyone at McAvoy would like to congratulate Stuart on his award and look forward to seeing his continued progress at McAvoy.”

Exporting to Tesco GB is ‘Wee Buns’ for Scott’s Bakery 
  • Posted 6 months ago

Iconic Northern Irish Brand Secures Major Listing with Tesco GB

The renowned Co. Tyrone based company, Scott’s Bakery, has secured a listing with Tesco that sees its Gluten Free cakes stocked in over 500 Tesco stores across GB February, with sales potential more than £800,000 forecasted for first year.

Tesco has an established relationship with Scott’s Bakery, selling its product range since 1997, however this new deal with Tesco GB will see Scott’s bakery sales with the leading retailer increase by 95% in the year ahead.

Scott’s Bakery employees over 150 people at its bakery in Fivemiletown in the Clogher Valley region of Co. Tyrone. The Scott family bakery started in the late 1960’s and has continued to specialise in the baking of small cakes. Traditional fairy cakes were its original product, with muffins, mini muffins, butterfly cakes and cupcakes being added to the product range as new product developments. Today, its carefully crafted cakes are supplied in both Scott’s and supermarket retailer brands all over the UK and Ireland.

Andrew Little of Scott’s Bakery said: “We have been aware of the demand for gluten-free cakes for some years and we are delighted to now have a recipe which meets our quality expectations. We have carefully developed this recipe for our customers’ enjoyment and we hope they meet their expectation of quality and, of course, value for money too.”

“We have been working in partnership with Tesco NI for the last few years and our relationship has gone from strength-to-strength. We recently invested £1.5million in the business and hired 30 new staff to increase capacity for new customers. This allowed us to supply Tesco GB and bring our Gluten Free cakes to a wider GB based audience. We are really looking forward to the next phase of this relationship and seeing our Gluten Free cakes lining the shelves in over 600 Tesco stores from this month onwards.”

Sandra Weir, Buying Manager for Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “Scott’s Bakery is a well-loved, family run Northern Irish company and its gluten-free range will capitalise on the increasing free-from trend, making this an exciting new listing for Tesco. This listing was progressed following a GB buyer visit to the Tesco Taste Festival, which was supported by Invest NI, and we are confident that it will be a huge hit with consumers in GB. Tesco NI will be proud to see Scott’s Bakery in the shopping baskets of GB shoppers this year and, in particular, the role Tesco NI played in this important new development for a much loved family business.”

Produced specifically for Tesco, there are 2 products being listed – Gluten Free Choc Chip Mini Muffins, and Assorted Fairy Cakes (featuring gluten-free Fairy Cake with creamy white chocolate topping, Gluten Free fairy cake with jam & cream filling and Gluten Free fairy cake with brown chocolate topping). This range of Gluten Free Cakes is approved by the Coeliac Society and carry the Crossed Grain symbol.


Two national ‘bests’ join forces 
  • Posted 7 months ago

Forest Feast Exotic Dried Mango named as ‘nation’s favourite mango’ and the brand appoints record-breaking local Paralympian as ambassador

Forest Feast Exotic Dried Mango has been named the Nation’s favourite dried mango snack in independent research from AC Nielson, 20 years after parent company, Kestrel Foods first launched onto the market.

In celebration of the accolade and its 20th anniversary, Forest Feast has appointed a brand ambassador, finding the perfect fit in a local Paralympian with a similar claim to fame.

Bethany Firth, of Team GB and hailing from Seaforde, County Down, is officially the nation’s most successful Paralympian after taking home three Gold and one Silver at this year’s Olympic Games.

A record holder for the 100m backstroke, the 200m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley, Bethany approached Kestrel Foods upon returning from Rio, naming Forest Feast Dried Mango as her snack of choice for training and competitions.

Fat free and high in fibre, Bethany uses Forest Feast Dried Mango to give her the energy boost she needs before training and competitions as well as snacking on it post-training.

Lorraine Hall, Sales and Marketing Director, said: “Being named the ‘nation’s favourite mango’ is a real coup for Forest Feast. For 20 years, we have prided ourselves on the quality of, and story behind, our dried mango product. From our partnership with PREDA which has allowed us from day one to support farmers in the Philippines and help them and their families achieve a better quality of life, to celebrating 20 years in business this year and all that has happened in between, this is an exciting anniversary for us. Taking the number one spot in the whole of the UK marketplace is an accolade befitting such an important milestone in our history.”

“Bethany is an incredible athlete – the fact our Dried Mango fuelled her training sessions and Olympic races is pretty amazing. We already have a legacy of supporting swimming clubs here in Northern Ireland and having Bethany as our proud brand ambassador only reinforces our commitment to swimming and sports in general as well as promoting the health and wellbeing benefits of healthy snacking to complement an active lifestyle. It’s a winning combination.”

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