New £1m craft bakery aims to create 30 jobs

A new £1m craft bakery has opened on the outskirts of Toomebridge, creating ten jobs, with plans to grow this to 30 within a year.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 11:34 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 11:42 am
Launching Bertie's Bakery is chief executive officer, Brian McErlain (right) and Eamonn Taggart, trading manager with the Henderson Group.
Launching Bertie's Bakery is chief executive officer, Brian McErlain (right) and Eamonn Taggart, trading manager with the Henderson Group.

Magherafelt man Brian McErlain, who has extensive business and food production expertise, is behind the venture at Creagh industrial park.

The bakery operates from a 15,000sq ft site and will produce a full range of freshly-baked products across 12 ranges.

Henderson Retail signed up to be the company’s first customer with an exclusive deal to supply ten company owned SPAR stores and one EUROSPAR operating in the north west which has since risen to 23 stores throughout Northern Ireland.

“Bertie’s Bakery is named after my mother who, along with my father Joe, were founders of the original McErlain’s bakery in 1968,” explained Brian.

“Her mantra was ‘don’t sell anything you wouldn’t love to eat yourself’ and it is that core value which is driving this new venture. We have sourced the very best flours, oils, seeds and grains to produce both traditional breads, cakes and snacks and new interpretations of old favourites such as our wheaten with honey and yogurt, topped with flaked almonds. All our products are hand-crafted and hand-finished which stays true to our artisanal ethos.

“We had been planning to open the bakery for many months when the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown came into effect and so despite the unprecedented circumstances, we realised we had an important part to play in terms of meeting the surge in demand for fresh food products. It’s early days and the conditions have been challenging but initial customer and retailer response to our freshness and quality has exceeded our expectations.

“Henderson Retail has been very supportive throughout our development stage and continues to be so. Our original contract was to supply 11 company owned stores in the North West.

"In the space of six weeks that has increased to 23 SPAR and EUROSPAR stores, including a number of independently-owned outlets, from Ballycastle to Banbridge. We have had to double our delivery van capacity and now have 4 vehicles on the road. We’re fortunate that the bakery is in a perfect location for quick and efficient distribution of fresh products.”

Neal Kelly, fresh foods director, Henderson Group, said: “It is core to our business to maximise local sourcing and support local agri-food businesses. Brian’s extensive knowledge of the bakery sector combined with his commitment to quality, value and innovation are a perfect fit with Henderson’s.

"The comprehensive range of products offered by Bertie’s Bakery is an exciting addition to our customer offering and we look forward to further developing our partnership with the business.”

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