Blackthorn Foods based in east Belfast is a family business that specialises in making quality handmade fudge using only natural ingredients.
Jenny Lowry founded the company in 2004 with her sisters Dorothy Bittles and Cathy Johnson.
When the trio wanted to explore new markets for their award-winning gourmet fudge they turned to Invest Northern Ireland for help.
Invest NI suggested that they take part in the Going Dutch programme. The programme provides one-to-one consultancy support from specialist trade advisers based in Holland, tailored market research, group workshops and a market visit programme involving arranged meetings with potential customers.
As a result of the Going Dutch programme the company has begun supplying its complete range of products to Rosenberg Import BV in Roosendaal, near Eindhoven. The business in the Netherlands is Blackthorn’s first in Europe outside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Jenny Lowry said: "The new business breakthrough in the Netherlands is the outcome of a marketing drive to grow business in key European markets and builds on our success in Great Britain, most recently with Partridges, the high-end food store in London's Kensington district, as well as in the Republic of Ireland.
"We’ve been exploring opportunities for our products in Europe for some time and decided to focus on the Netherlands. It’s a market that’s easily accessed from Northern Ireland by air and one in which consumers appreciate the premium quality confectionery that we produce.
"Invest NI's Going Dutch support was invaluable in the help and guidance provided by their in-market advisors in Amsterdam. We were helped with essential market information, guidance on how to do business in the Netherlands and assistance in pinpointing Rosenberg as a partner.
“Rosenberg is a good fit for us because of its successful track record and distribution network. We will be working closely with the Rosenberg team on promotional activities to help in developing sales throughout the country. The Netherlands, in addition, is an ideal platform for expansion into other neighbouring markets."
Blackthorn Foods, which has gained a string of UK Great Taste Awards, has also recently secured its first sales from a leading wholesaler in Dubai.
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