Tesco's 'buy local' policy boosts Ulster
Supermarket giant Tesco is now sourcing £400m worth of goods from Northern Ireland suppliers each year, it has been revealed.
Tesco NI commercial manager Cliff Kells said products from Ulster are making their way to its shelves right across the UK and the Republic.
"This year already we've introduced 12 new Northern Ireland suppliers and more than 100 new lines into Northern Ireland stores, increasing our number of local suppliers to over 75," he said.
"We have strong relationships with local suppliers developed over 10 years and are now increasingly keen to find smaller and more specialised suppliers, even if they can only supply a limited number of stores," he added.
Mr Kells further said that Tesco's focus for the future is to become even more local and continue to add exciting new products.
"We're ideally placed to build new relationships using the strength of our regional buying team," he said.
The commercial manager's remarks came as Tesco, which employs over 9,000 people in 34 stores across Northern Ireland, overcame a rain- hit summer to post half-year profits of £1.32bn.
The better-than-expected performance - 14% ahead of last year - came despite the "challenges" of the poor summer weather, chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said.
But the weather took its toll on UK like-for-like sales, which grew by just 3.5%, excluding petrol, in the six months to August 25.
Tesco's UK business performed ahead of expectations early in the period but slowed as summer downpours dampened sales.