Changes to butchery laws easy meat after launch of new firm
A Co Tyrone woman who has invested £250,000 in her small food business is aiming to help other firms in the strong growth sector save thousands as they battle against expensive changes to legislation.
Montgomery Food Consulting in Aughnacloy has grown by 500% since its inception in 2010 and current clients include some of Northern Ireland and Ireland's largest names in food manufacturing such as Annaghmore Mushrooms, Island Salads, Annie's Traditional Foods, McKees Maghera, Morelli Ice-cream and the Hilton Meat Group.
In June of this year, entrepreneur Rhonda Montgomery launched a new service, the Butchery Excellence Scheme, which helps members adhere to legislation and encourages innovation.
The new wing already has 45 members, with Rhonda hoping for 80 by the end of the year and a doubling of that number in 2015. The biggest client so far is the McAtamney's Butchery Group, which has 11 stores in Northern Ireland.
Ms Montgomery recently opened new premises including a training facility, food innovation kitchen, and new workspaces.
She said that the Butchery Excellence Scheme will save members approximately £2,000 a year by helping them to keep on top of legislation.
"As legislation has changed and become more and more onerous on butchers shops, there was the need for a specific service to help butchers," she said.
"I have launched the Butchery Excellence Scheme to help butchers keep on top of changes to legislation and the associated costs to implement changes.
"It's estimated that these changes cost butchers well over £2,500 per year and for many butchers cost and time pressures are rising significantly.
"Therefore we decided to develop the Butchery Excellence Scheme and since its launch, the feedback and interest has really surpassed our expectations.
"Our ultimate ambition is to be a 'one-stop shop' for all butchers' needs in the areas of legislation and innovation.
"Once we have achieved scale in Ireland, we intend to open membership of the Butchery Excellence Scheme to butchers in Great Britain. The long-term goal is to have expanded to Great Britain by the end of 2016."
The majority of the investment came from Rhonda herself, but includes a £30,000 loan from the Invest Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund.
The firm expansion also recently benefited from £26,000 from Invest NI towards its business development activities including support to recruit a new Food Technologist and Administrator.
Welcoming the expansion, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "The company is a valuable employer in South Tyrone and its investment will not only enhance Montgomery Food Consulting's reputation across Great Britain and the Republic, but also reinforce the capabilities of Northern Ireland's world-class food sector."