Belfast Telegraph

Co Down ready-made meals producer Mash Direct celebrating Asda supply deal

By Margaret Canning

A food company in Co Down is celebrating after its products were listed in Asda stores in England.

Mash Direct, which makes dozens of ready-to-serve vegetable dishes from a Comber farm, will now be sold in Asdas from Nottingham to Southampton after getting into two depots belonging to the supermarket giant.

The company, which was founded in 2004, already supplies Asda stores in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as other supermarkets.

Managing director Martin Hamilton revealed the Asda breakthrough before he and five other Northern Ireland finalists take part in the final of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Ireland final tomorrow night.

He said the recent opportunity to supply Asdas in England with five product lines from its cheese and onion croquettes to cauliflower cheese gratin had come up through the local assistance of the supermarket.

"We have an opportunity which has been supported and driven by the local Asda team here in Antrim.

"The team there has been exceptionally supportive of us as a company and helped to open the doors for us to get an opening into the whole of the UK," Mr Hamilton said.

It already supplies Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

"Now we're in two Asda depots in England supplying stores from Southampton to Nottingham, with the potential of opening up the whole UK account."

Their products are also sold in Booths, an upmarket chain of grocers Waitrose, in the north of England, and Spar stores around the UK.

It is a supplier for Musgrave stores – whose retail brands are SuperValu, Centra and Budgens – around the UK and Ireland, and Dunnes throughout Ireland.

And the company has thrived despite the economic downturn, Mr Hamilton said.

"We have been fortunate. In some ways restaurants and hotels have taken a bit of a hit but, in general, people must continue to eat."

Vegetables would remain the focus of the business, Mr Hamilton said.

Recent new products include three varieties of ready-prepared kale.

It has also attended food fairs in Cologne, Germany, and in Barcelona and is also exporting as far away as Dubai, where two pallets of its products are sent every week.

The other Northern Ireland finalists competing in the Entrepreneur of the Year final are Eleanor McAvoy of Budget Energy, Colin Williams of Sixteen South, Mark Godfrey and Simon Cole from Automated Intelligence, Seamus McKeague from Creagh Concrete and Peter Dixon from Kellen Investments.

The final will be televised on RTE1 tomorrow at 10.50pm.

2004

The year Mash Direct was founded using food from a Comber farm

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