Irwin's Bakery clinches £1m Tesco deal to sell 'Joeys'
Irwin's Bakery in Co Armagh has signed a £1m deal with Tesco to stock its much-loved 'Joeys' in 700 stores across the UK.
Around one million Snowy Joeys - and Jammy Joeys - will hit the shelves of the UK's biggest supermarket as part of Portadown-based Irwin's biggest ever deal.
The nationwide roll-out comes on the back of a successful trial for the coconut-coated madeira bun in Scotland.
The buns were created by Howell's Handmade in 1985 and have been a firm favourite ever since. Howell's Handmade was acquired by Irwin's back in 2006 as the bakery sought to develop a specialist 'handmade' cake and biscuits division in its overall business.
The bakery, which employs 400 people here, now produces 60 million Joeys annually.
John Hopkins, Irwin's Bakery sales director, said the deal showed the popularity of its products.
"As Northern Ireland's leading bakery, we are always delighted to share the news of a much-loved local product's popularity in other markets," he said.
"It is fantastic to secure this contract with Tesco as it not only strengthens our existing relationship but showcases the quality and taste of our products."
Mr Hopkins said that the added revenue would be invested back into the bakery.
"We have invested in our production facilities, which has allowed us to increase capacity and win business on this scale."
With the deal the bakery has been able to invest in an extension in premises, equipment and the modification of equipment.
The company will also invest in its "production line to enable growth in capacity specifically to enable growth in Joeys", Mr Hopkins said.
Irwin's already supplies all five of the major national supermarkets - Tesco, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, and Asda.
However, Mr Hopkins said: "Tesco is the first retailer to stock Irwin's branded Jammy Joeys - however, Joeys are available under the Howell house brand locally and in Great Britain."
Irwin's, which was founded in 1912, currently supplies around 200,000 packets of goods to Tesco per week. This includes brands such as Rankin Selection, Irwin's and Howell's Handmade as well as Tesco private label. Caoimhe Mannion, Tesco Northern Ireland's marketing manager, said the expansion of Irwin's products in the supermarket built on a long working relationship between the two firms.
"We are delighted that such a firm favourite in our stores in Northern Ireland is now being brought to a wider audience," Ms Mannion said.
"This deal to supply Joeys to Tesco stores in Britain builds on a relationship between the two companies which stretches back more than 20 years."
She added: "And it once again highlights the willingness of our Northern Ireland-based commercial team to help local food and drink companies to win business with Tesco right across the UK."