Grahams Bakery to export range to store giant in UAE
Co Down food firm Grahams Bakery has won a contract to supply its baked goods to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) supermarket giant.
The deal to stock one of Dubai's top four multiples with sponge cakes and pastries is the second Middle Eastern supermarket deal struck by Grahams in Dromore.
Tim Graham (28) runs the business alongside his father Dennis and sisters Lois and Esther.
Mr Graham said the company's family heritage had helped make the brand popular in more traditional countries. He said: "The business was started by my granny 60 years ago and then my dad and my two sisters joined it, and then me.
"I think that goes across well in the Middle East where family is still a very strong part of culture.
"We try to reflect that in our packaging and on every packet there's a quote from a different member of the family about the products. We wanted to have a brand that represents heritage. And because my sisters and I, who are running the business, are very young, we are able to do that in a more modern way."
And he described how the roots of the company lay in a church event attended by his grandmother May Graham. "She made a few buns on a Sunday for a church event and had some left over," he said. "She ran a sweetie shop and decided to put some of them in the shop window.
"They sold out by lunchtime so she decided to make more and they just kept selling." He said the latest deal had arrived at the right time, as the firm experiences seasonal changes in demand.
He said: "The order landed in January, a time when typically people are on diets and not eating as much cake so that's great for us because it creates a nice rhythm for the business."
And he said food from Ireland was growing in popularity overseas.
"People pay a premium because of the taste and because it's from Ireland or the UK. Northern Ireland internationally is building a reputation for quality and trustworthy food. That means that people will pay a little bit more for it."
The latest deal is an initial trial for the products but Mr Graham said he is confident buyers will be back for another bite. The supermarket concerned cannot be identified for commercial reasons.
At home, the business supplies Tesco Northern Ireland and in the Republic the Henderson Group.
In 2014, the company began supplying Spinneys in Dubai with a mini bite range including shortbread biscuits, brownies, Viennese whirls and Swiss rolls. The contract was secured with the help of Invest NI.