Belfast Telegraph

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Andrew Ingredients recently achieved accreditation that demonstrates its commitment to safety and quality.

The Lisburn-based firm is a specialist supplier to the food industry throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It has attained accreditation in storage and distribution from BRC Global Standards - a leading safety and quality certification programme, which is used by more than 23,000 certified suppliers in 123 countries around the world.

The company's commercial director, John Graham, said this success is as a result of the hard work and dedication of staff, as well as investment in bigger and better premises.

"We recently got this accreditation from BRC, which is the gold standard in the food industry," he said.

"It required an awful lot of work and a team effort.

"Everyone had the right attitude and did what was necessary in bringing about the changes required to get the accreditation. Without the staff, it wouldn't have been possible.

"Basically, it all comes down to traceability; it required an awful lot more documentation and formalised practices to be put in place.

"A lot of the practices were in place beforehand but may not have been documented properly and this needed to be addressed.

"It was more work for everyone, but as I say, we have a great team of people who saw the benefit of it for the company."

Andrew Ingredients was founded in 1945 by Bill Andrew.

Mr Andrew had worked in England for the Peerless Refining Co (Liverpool) Ltd, first on the technical side and later as a salesman.

When the opportunity came to take over the Northern Ireland agency for Peerless, Mr Andrew jumped at the chance to come back to his roots.

His mother was from Larne and he longed to return to Northern Ireland.

His aim was to introduce new standards of support, expertise and service to the baking industry.

Seventy-one years later, the company now stocks and distributes more than 2,000 different products to customers all over Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Annual turnover is £13m - up £5m in less than a decade.

And Mr Graham (37) said the company has plans to continue to build on this financial success.

"I suppose we don't want to set a target, but we believe we have more to offer and are not content to sit at £13m," he said.

"We want to be much bigger than that and we will keep pushing to match that."

Celebrating 70 years in business in 2015, the company opened an extended warehouse facility and a new test bakery and kitchen. The warehouse extension includes four new loading bays and refrigeration unit, while the test bakery and kitchen will help the firm to meet its aim to offer continued support to customers.

The firm has employed its own baker, someone with more than 20 years of experience in the industry, and it is his job to help customers develop new recipes, as well as resolving any problems they may experience.

"He can bring customers in to show them new products and ideas and if they want to come in and develop a new product on our premises, then they can do that," said Mr Graham.

"We believe in being able to support customers with that sort of technical development.

"It isn't just about selling products, it is about helping them in the development of their business and products."

As part of this ethos, the company also takes customers on visits to suppliers across Europe.

And during its 70th celebrations last year, the firm hosted a two-day event on site, which provided an ideal networking opportunity for customers and suppliers.

It featured product demonstrations, sampling, seminars and promotions - all with the aim of helping with profitable ideas.

Mr Graham was approached to take up his role in the firm more than two years ago, by Tim Andrew - one of the company's directors and son of the founder.

He said Mr Andrew has also played an integral role in the success of the business.

"Tim started working out in the store about 40 years ago now," he said. "It was a two-week summer job and he never left.

"He has worked in most parts of the business, he was there before they even had computers, he knows the business inside out and that has been a big benefit.

"He's seen it grow from a very small level right up to what it is now.

"I think another thing that is so important, as I've already said, is the staff.

"We have a number of longstanding staff and a very low staff turnover.

Mr Andrew added: "A lot of the staff have been here for 30-odd years as well and I think that is one of the most important things, particularly in the food industry, where there are a lot of changes all the time."

Belfast Telegraph

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