Sainsbury's Northern Ireland contracts worth £250 million
Value of locally-sourced produce unveiled as supermarket giant toasts buoyant festive period
Sainsbury's sources £250m of produce from Northern Ireland's farmers and processors annually, the supermarket giant said.
On the day it announced a bumper Christmas trading period, chief executive Justin King said the festive season was its "best ever" with customers spending a record £17m in just one hour across all its UK stores on December 23. The buoyant performance will have come as a relief to the company's boss after an autumn period which he admitted was difficult.
"This quarter has been characterised by a very tough sales environment throughout October and November, with customers saving up in order to treat their families over the Christmas period," he said as he revealed Sainsbury's third quarter results.
"However, we saw strong sales in the key period over Christmas."
Although a separate breakdown isn't available for Northern Ireland, Sainsbury's said customers at its 13 stores here buy £40m annually of its locally-sourced produce while another £210m is sold through its stores in the rest of the UK. It buys from 100 Northern Ireland suppliers "who buy from many more growers, farmers and producers", the company said in a statement.
They include Skea Eggs, sausage company Doherty & Gray, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, crisp maker Tayto, meat processor Dunbia and Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt. In July 2013 it also made a pledge to sell only fresh pork in Northern Ireland which is sourced from local farms.
It has also agreed a "six figure deal" with dairy business Dale Farm to supply Sainsbury's own label cheddar cheese in its 13 stores here.
Meanwhile, the London-listed company's 0.2% increase in sales in the third quarter may have brought relief to the company, however, it is still well down on the 2% hike in sales witnessed in the second quarter and the 0.9% increase in the same period last year.
The trading update also revealed that customers redeemed £120m worth of points under its Nectar card loyalty scheme, to help with the cost of their festive shop – a 9% increase on last year.
Upmarket rivals Waitrose, which commentators believe will eventually set up shop in Northern Ireland, also released bullish results with like-for-like sales up 3.1% in the five-week Christmas period.
It said growth had been driven by increased competitiveness on price as well as the success of the myWaitrose card, with customer visits up by 10.4% on last year.
* Sainsbury's sources £250m worth of produce from Northern Ireland each year, £40m of which is sold to consumers here.
* The supermarket buys products from 100 Northern suppliers.
* Suppliers include Skea Eggs, Doherty and Gray, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Tayto and Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt.
Value of goods sourced locally which are sold to customers here