Tesco has announced that it will source £1billion worth of local Northern Ireland produce over the next two years. The announcement was made as Tesco prepared to open a brand new 43,000 sq ft store on the Castlereagh Road in East Belfast today (4th October). The store has created almost 90 new jobs for the area and marks an investment of £24million. It brings the total number of stores in Northern Ireland to over 50.
The new Castlereagh Road store includes a Tesco Café, electricals, toys and clothing departments as well as a wine & spirits section and fresh produce counters. It also features an in-store bakery with products including the award-winning Tesco Finest wheatens, sodas and scones supplied by Genesis Bakery in Magherafelt and a fresh meat counter provided by local butchers, Primacy Meats. This emphasis on genuinely supporting and promoting the relationship with local suppliers is a major focus for Tesco in Northern Ireland, through its Taste NI campaign.
Tesco NI Managing Director, Gary Mills, stated that the new East Belfast store showcases the company’s ongoing drive to offer customers here the widest possible range of locally sourced products, a commitment which he believes goes right to the heart of the local economy and community. He said: “Tesco shoppers know that they can find produce from their favourite local companies such as Irwin’s, Wilson’s Country, Dale Farm and Tayto in our stores. However, local doesn’t just mean these bigger brands. Tesco in Northern Ireland is working hard to source as many products as possible from local producers, big and small. Local means supporting the farmers, the fresh veg growers, the producers and the smaller artisan companies who work extremely hard to produce an impressive range of high quality products. Companies like Big Pot Soups, Mash Direct, Clandeboye Yoghurt, Country Kitchen coleslaw – all of these are home grown and locally made.”
“Over the next two years, Tesco is now committed to buying £1 billion worth of local produce from local suppliers and growers. Since March this year alone, we have introduced more than 200 new local lines, with many more in the pipeline. Through our summer activities with smaller artisan producers, 15 of these companies, many a one-man-or-woman-band, have taken up the opportunity to display, sample, sell their products in the foyer of large Tesco stores. Four of these companies are already in talks with our buyers with a view to gaining a listing in Tesco.”
“Buying local means that Tesco shoppers can support these companies, which are providing vital employment across Northern Ireland and keeping our food & drink industries thriving. We are extremely proud to work in partnership all our local suppliers and we hope our customers will enjoy getting to know them a little better and supporting them in our stores.”
Members of the public got their first glimpse of the new-look Castlereagh Road store when it was officially opened today (Thursday 4th October) by First Minister and MLA for the area, Peter Robinson, with the assistance of a local community VIP-for-the-day, Margaret Kerr. Margaret is the primary 1 teacher at nearby Euston Street Primary School, where she has taught P1’s for over 36 years. She was nominated by staff and parents at the school through a competition in the local newspaper.
Following the opening Mr Robinson said: “These are difficult economic times in which we live and I must therefore congratulate Tesco for the commitment they have shown to East Belfast in moving to expand their operations at this time. The financial investment involved is no small beer, totaling around £24 million as it does and bringing 90 much needed jobs to the area. Above and beyond the jobs and investment which are directly associated with the opening of this new store, we must acknowledge Tesco’s continuing commitment to sourcing its produce in Northern Ireland. The wealth created by these home grown companies is central to Tesco’s own retail success and I hope that the company to continue to expand its range of NI sourced produce. To that end I very much welcome Tesco’s announcement that they intend to purchase £1 billion worth of local produce from local suppliers and growers of the next two years. This reflects the depth of Tesco’s commitment to Northern Ireland and I trust that this relationship can continue to develop in the years ahead.”
The Tesco store, which has on-site parking for 450 cars, will be open until midnight 6 days a week as well as normal Sunday opening hours. For more information on Tesco’s links with local food log on to www.tasteni.com