Bruton in bid to encourage new generation of high potential Irish start-ups through mentoring

Enterprise Ireland working with SuperValu to help entrepreneurial local companies take the first step to retail success

Programme has delivered €16m in sales for participants to date

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, today launched the 2011 Enterprise Ireland SuperValu Supplier Development Programme.  The programme will see ten young Irish food start-up companies receive customised training and one-on-one mentoring support.

Developed by Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with SuperValu, and assisted by Bord Bia and Teagasc, the Programme delivers support for small or emerging food companies to achieve the product quality, service standards and technical innovation necessary to reach supermarket shelves.  Now in its fifth year, the Programme has to date delivered €16 million of direct sales from participating companies to SuperValu. 

Ten companies have signed up to take part in this year’s six-month long programme, which will consist of both workshops delivered by SuperValu and industry experts and one-on-one mentoring. The companies involved are typically small businesses and this year include suppliers of organic and innovative food products.  Participating companies will include Kearney’s Gluten Free Breaded Fish, Killowen Yogurt, Dee’s Wholefoods, Kilbeg Dairy, Irish Organic Milk Producers, Walsh Gourmet Foods, Yogies/Petzert, Danucci, Donegal Rapeseed Oil Co and Truly Irish.

Launching the programme, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:

In order to get the economy and job creation growing again, I am determined to work hard and try to ensure that we get the absolute most, in terms of job creation potential, out of every strength and asset we have. This includes reducing costs, improving access to finance and encouraging innovation – but also mining the potential of the traditional strengths of our economy.

Today’s initiative represents a great example of a coordinated attempt by government and the private sector to use the strengths in the food industry in order to enhance enterprise and job creation. Between the experience built up by a leading retailer and the resources of our business development agency, we can ensure that Irish high potential enterprises in this sector can expand to their full potential.

“In the coming months I will be exploring other areas of the economy where the great potential of business mentoring can be used to support Irish start-ups and ensure that we support in any way we can the businesses and jobs of the future.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu, said: ‘SuperValu is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and promoting the Irish food industry, it’s in our DNA, from our commitment to buying Irish, to our 192 independently owned stores nationwide. The Enterprise Ireland SuperValu Supplier Development Programme is a crucial element for helping us fulfil our promise to our customers to source from Irish food producers. Cultivating relationships with companies at an early stage can lead to long lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. For example, we recently signed a new deal with Oliver Carty Limited to supply 100% Irish bacon and ham. Since 1995 we have helped them grow from having a turnover of €792,000 with 11 employees to an annual turnover of €44 million with 130 employees.  We hope to form similar long lasting trading partnerships with the participants of this year’s programme, so that they in turn can create job opportunities in their own local communities’.

Frank Ryan, Chief Executive of Enterprise Ireland said: ’The Enterprise Ireland SuperValu Supplier Development Programme is an important part of our strategy for the further development of the consumer foods sector. Last year’s participants achieved listings of €5 million and I hope we can match or exceed that success in this year’s Programme. Our national growth will rely on boosting local economies, supporting local companies and maintaining local employment. We looks forward to working with this year’s participants in what will, I’m sure, be a very successful programme’.

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