Spar has highlighted its focus on sourcing the best fresh locally-produced food by holding a celebration event for its top suppliers at the Balmoral Show.
The Henderson Group, owner of the Spar franchise in Northern Ireland and a platinum sponsor of the show, held the Spar Local Supplier Awards to mark the excellent produce, practices and ranges of the companies it works with.
The Best Local Supplier Award went to Ballyclare company Fred C Robinson, a supplier of branded and own label pork products to the Henderson Group for almost 25 years. It supplies Spar stores with 100% locally sourced pork and has taken ownership of the Spar label pork category over the last 12 months. Fred C Robinson has been heavily involved in new product development for Spar, which has resulted in innovative weekend roasts and Christmas ranges.
Newry-based Around Noon was named the supplier of the Best New Spar Range. The company has developed and launched an exclusive range of Spar and Streat branded sandwiches and wraps for the Henderson Group. A core range of sandwiches, wraps and salads was launched in 2013 followed up by a Christmas sandwich and further extension to the range. Around Noon now supplies 30 lines to all Henderson owned stores with business continuing to grow on a weekly basis.
K&G McAtamney was the winner of the Tomorrow Matters award, named after the Henderson Group’s own CSR strategy – focussed on People, Planet and Place – for the company which gives back to its own community, the environment and/or encourages team development. It supplies Spar exclusively with a range of tray packed, ready to cook beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
Last year saw McAtamney move into a purpose built, state-of-the-art 18,000sq ft factory in Ballymena with a full heat recovery system and Biomass boiler. The workforce has doubled to almost 70 and with volumes being supplied to the Henderson Group increasing, job creation is expected to continue.
Neal Kelly, Henderson Group’s fresh food director and head of the judging panel, said Spar was fortunate to work with many great suppliers from across Northern Ireland in its focus to bring the best fresh food to customers.
“The three categories in which we shortlisted represent what is most important to us as a business – giving our shoppers excellent ranges to choose from, sourcing locally produced traceable food and of course CSR.
“We feel we have three very worthy winners and importantly, companies which reflect our values. Our longstanding relationship with Fred C Robinson says a lot about how well the company works with us. It continues to be forward-thinking in its product development, with revamped ranges and new products with real provenance arriving on our shelves.
“Around Noon have demonstrated its ability to develop, produce and deliver a product which is of a high quality but at an affordable price. Staff are passionate about what they do and have helped us create inspirational lunchtime options for our customers.
“We’re delighted that McAtamney’s supply us exclusively with great meat products and we’re so impressed that its new factory is leading the way for other businesses in terms of being environmentally friendly.”
Finalists in the awards also included Rockvale Poultry in Richhill for Best New Spar Range, Willowbrook Foods in Killinchy in the Tomorrow Matters category and Lurgan-based Boconnell Mushrooms and Kelly Flowers in Lisburn for Best Local Supplier.
Fresh food now accounts for over one third of the total annual sales for Henderson Group retail brands. The fresh food division is seeking to increase this figure significantly through focussing on further improving its local fresh ranges, including its sandwich and meat ranges. Over 75% of the Henderson Group’s fresh offering is sourced from the island of Ireland.