The Harlequin Patisserie, based in Newtownards, is to be renamed Knead, as the traditional family bakery passes on to the founder’s son.

Allen and Lovaine Niblock founded the bakery in 1994, and have now passed it on to their son, Graeme, and his wife, Cheryl, who have bought them out.

Graeme said: “I remember standing on crates to reach the machines, sleeping on top of bags of flour, and saving up the pocket money I earned for Lego.”

Now 37, Graeme wants to revamp the business and bring in more local produce. Cheryl has been finding local suppliers and has introduced Northern Ireland produce, such as Erin Grove jam and Passion Preserves.

Gap in the market

Graeme said that he recognised a gap in the local health food market, and the bakery has been developing low-GI and multi-grain recipes. He hopes to build on this in the future by opening a sit-in café for people with food sensitivities and intolerances.

He said: “It [low-GI] is becoming mainstream, and there’s a growing market for it – customers are always asking for it.

“The thing is, when you are taking something out, you have got to replace it with something else, and it’s finding the right thing to do that. Quinoa and spelt flour are really taking off. A lot of our loaves are sugar-free, too, so will be suitable for diabetics.”

Graeme’s father also used to own the Golden Crumb bakery in Belmont, Belfast.

This week, Northern Irish baker Irwin’s announced that it had teamed up with Tourism Ireland to promote a “visit Northern Ireland” message to consumers via an on-pack marketing campaign.