Award-winning beef producer Bruce's Hill Cattle Company to face restructure
A Northern Ireland beef company which found favour with celebrity chefs and featured on popular television programmes is facing restructuring.
The Bruce's Hill Cattle Company was established in 2008 and sourced beef from farms in Co Antrim, specialising in products made from rare Irish breeds.
A meeting of creditors of the firm has been scheduled for September 17, signalling it may be hoping to reach a company voluntary arrangement for its debts.
Formerly an accountant, company founder Mike Frazer moved into farming and won several top awards for his cattle at the Balmoral Show.
As well as breeding Shorthorn, Angus and Belted Galloway cattle, Mr Frazer focused on the revival of rare Irish breeds facing extinction, like the Dexter and Irish Moilie breeds, the latter being Northern Ireland's original and only native cattle breed.
Last year Bruce's Hill was named Countryside Alliance all-Ireland local food producer of the year and the firm won 10 gold stars in the 2013 Great Taste awards.
In late 2013, Bruce's Hill sealed a deal to supply Dexter meat into Selfridges in London while celebrity chef James Martin featured the farm on his BBC series James Martin's Food Map of Britain and cooked with the beef on The Food and Drink Show last October.
Bruce's Hill also featured on the BBC show Farm Fixer with Nick Hewer. However, the firm lost one butchery outlet with the closure of Donegore Tea Rooms & Deli earlier this year and a pop-up store at College Street in Belfast closed in the last week.
No one from the company was available for comment.
Food critic Joris Minne, who appeared on Farm Fixer to advise Mr Frazer, said that while the firm had won many awards, some products failed to appeal to the everyday shopper.
"I am very sad to hear this news and hope the company can restructure as it is a very worthwhile contributor to the food and drink sector," he said.
"The company always had an issue with marketing – the products appealed to top chefs and restaurants and won awards, but to make it work they needed to sell to shoppers on the high street as well.
"Mike had a great idea, he revived interest in rare breed beef and I really hope he can recover from this and make it work."