Belfast Telegraph

Newry sandwich firm strikes £5m deal with Irish forecourt giant

By Emma Deighan

A Newry-based sandwich firm has signed a £5m contract to supply its convenience food range to Topaz forecourts throughout Ireland.

Around Noon, which was set up 25 years ago, will now supply its selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads and fruit pots, under its Scribbles brand, to the fuel giant's Re.Stores in the Republic.

There are 160 Re.Stores in Ireland, located within Topaz service stations. They form part of the fuel giant's plans to offer healthier alternatives for those eating on the go and are delivered using a deli-style format.

This new partnership comes shortly after Around Noon announced that it had acquired London-based company Chef-in-a-Box in September. That deal was struck after the sandwich firm received £750,000 from the Growth Loan Fund.

It announced then that it would rebrand Chef-in-a-Box to trade under its own name.

As a result of the latter business deals, Around Noon expects a turnover of around £20m this year.

Gareth Chambers, chief executive of Around Noon, said: "2017 has been a very strong year for Around Noon, as we have won a number of significant contracts in the UK and Ireland, and have expanded our business with the acquisition of Chef-in-a-Box in London.

"We are delighted to be working with Topaz to launch a fresh new grab and go range of artisan food."

Around Noon, which began as a kitchen table project, now employs over 300 staff who produce over 60 products.

Its growth has attracted a string of awards including three 'Sammies' at an event organised by the British Sandwich Association in London. Among those accolades was an Overall New Sandwich of the Year gong.

It was also named one of the UK's fastest-growing companies in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 December.

Mr Chambers told the Belfast Telegraph that the firm has a five-year growth plan (called To the Moon 2021) adding that he was "excited about the future".

According to trend analysts IGD the UK's food-to-go sector is in strong health and will be worth £23.5bn by 2022, up from £17.4bn this year, as shoppers' preference for eating on the move shows no signs of slowing down.

And in the forecourt sector, the research company expects to see growth of over 6% in the coming years.

Topaz is one of Ireland's biggest forecourt operators with 444 outlets across the country, including almost 50 in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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