A sandwich manufacturer in Co Down has won a £3.5m deal to supply Marks & Spencer stores across the island of Ireland.
Gareth Chamber, the chief executive of Around Noon, said the “current trading environment” in Northern Ireland under the NI Protocol was enabling it to supply customers all over the island.
It will now be supplying its Twelve Handmade range to M&S, a deal which it said was worth £3.5m in retail sales. The sandwiches are made in Co Down using ingredients sourced north and south of the border.
Around Noon sales director Philip Morgan said: “We proposed supporting M&S’s current offering with products produced on the island of Ireland, made with Irish ingredients.
“We developed a small range of products that would exhibit provenance — as an example the bread and the chicken are produced on the island of Ireland.
“M&S have stores across the island and the ingredients come from both the north and south of Ireland as well. This is ever-more important for the M&S consumer here.
“Our Twelve Handmade in Co Down range has had a very successful resonance with the M&S shopper,” he added.
The range includes chicken and handmade Irish stuffing, chicken and bacon on Irish malted bread and BLT with Ballymaloe Relish.
Eddie Murphy, trading director at Marks & Spencer on the island of Ireland, said: “We are extremely impressed by the quality and provenance of the ingredients that Around Noon sources and by the quality of service they provide.
“Working with Around Noon is helping us strengthen our supply chain and provide really high-quality products for our customers across the island.”
M&S has 26 sandwich lines for sale in all its 38 stores across the island of Ireland and said it plans to expand its Twelve range with Around Noon.
Gareth Chambers, Around Noon’s chief executive, said that being based in Northern Ireland was helping the company secure deals across the border.
“Being based in Northern Ireland enables Around Noon to supply high-quality sandwiches to customers across the island in a way that meets their needs and the needs of their consumers.
"We can source high-quality ingredients from across the island and produce sandwiches here in county Down from distribution north and south. This is important to our customers in the current trading environment.”
Around Noon was founded by the parents of its CEO Gareth Chambers over 30 years ago and now employs over 400 people. It supplies chilled, hot, frozen and bakery products to customers like forecourt, convenience and multiple retailers and cafes in the UK and Ireland.
The NI Protocol has left Northern Ireland companies with access to both the UK and EU single markets following Brexit, which has meant that NI’s trade with the Republic, and vice versa, has been unimpeded.
And another Co Down sandwich business, Deli Lites, has also been able to pick up contracts as a result of the trading agreement.
The Warrenpoint firm, which is led by Brian and Jackie Reid, won a contract to supply sandwiches to Boots stores in Northern Ireland.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last week, Mr Reid said Deli Lites has won contracts in recent months “without a doubt” because of access to both markets.
But European Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič has warned that Northern Ireland firms could lose access to the single market if the UK enacts legislation intended to dismantle parts of the protocol, including eliminating the role of the European Court of Justice in disputes over the protocol.
Mr Reid said last week: “At the minute we have the advantage of access to both markets and that is a fantastic opportunity. So, for that to be removed, it would put us at a great disadvantage.”