Belfast Telegraph

Co Down fresh food firm's growth dishes up award

By Rachel Martin

Co Down fresh produce and fine foods supplier North Down Group has come out tops in a UK industry award ceremony.

The distribution company was named UK foodservice supplier of the year at the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) awards.

North Down Group was founded 26 years ago in Newtownards with just three members of staff, but today employs 112 people.

The firm imports herbs and speciality vegetables and also hosts Northern Ireland's only commercial farmers' market, where producers meet daily at 3.30am to sell fruit and veg at its headquarters off Kennedy Way in Belfast.

Growth of 38% and investment in the business were just two of the many factors that contributed to the firm's award.

FPC, the UK's fresh produce trade association, represents retailers, distributors, importers, wholesalers, processors, packers and a large number of associated members.

It's not the first time North Down Group has been recognised at the prestigious awards ceremony. In 2004, its chairman and co-founder, Perry Donaldson, was given the lifetime achievement award.

Ashley Megarry, the managing director of North Down Group, said: "In 2015 we took the strategic decision to invest in the business through training, modernisation of our facilities, increasing our fleet and expanding our product range.

"It was an investment that has paid off, with our customer base increasing by 23% and turnover in 2015 growing by almost 40%," he added.

"To be recognised at the Fresh Awards on a UK level is a tremendous achievement for the company, and it's a real testament to how our team embraced the changes that were introduced, and how our investment in the business is paying dividends."

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