Northern Ireland baker Irwin’s expects to hit a turnover of £40m in the next five years as it focuses on the English market. 

Currently turning over £34m, Niall Irwin, technical director, predicted that England, as well as Wales and Scotland, will provide much of the growth.

He said: “England is the biggest market – the most chimney pots are there – so it should have the most potential. We will build on our brand development with the main supermarkets.”

Irwin’s already supplies the big five in the UK with its Rankin Selection breads, in partnership with Irish celebrity chef Paul Rankin, as well as Irwin’s branded fruited breads in some multiples.

“The Rankin range was originally designed for England, Scotland and Wales, because the buying public didn’t know Irwin’s, but the Rankin range has been very successful for Paul and us,” said Irwin.

He projected a turnover of £40m in the next five years, but said it was hard to estimate due to the current “turmoil” in the bread market. He said the estimate was “conservative”.

While the UK remains the major focus for the company, it also has its sights on China, where some products are already in distribution. Irwin termed it a “minute foray” into the east, but said “the rest of the world” was also a target, though without firm plans.

The Republic of Ireland also represents a challenge due to euros being the currency in play, although Irwin’s has not ruled it out.

Meanwhile, the company has invested £350,000 in rebranding the Rankin Selection. The brand has grown by almost 30% in Great Britain since 2005, and is currently worth £9m. The range includes Brown Soda Bread (£1.20), Stoneground Wheaten (£1.44), Buttermilk Soda Bread (£1.00), Potato Slims (£1.20), Fruit Soda Bread (£1.69), Barmbrack (£1.80) and Rankin Fruit Loaf (£1.50).