Northern Irish bakery McErlain’s has almost tripled its sales in Britain over the past two years, through a combination of new products and “market drive”.

The firm puts the 270% sales increase down to a commitment to exports, innovation and a strong customer focus. Within the two-year period, the bakery secured a major deal to supply Marks & Spencer (M&S) with own-label Jam Bake, Lemon Drizzle Bake and Iced Tops.

The contract with M&S contributed to an overall growth in turnover of 90%, and has seen 66 new jobs created at the bakery.

Brian McErlain, managing director, said: “We launched our expansion programme in 2009 and have exceeded our targets on all fronts. This has been achieved through an intimate understanding of our markets and customer base, alongside our investment in people and systems that enable us firstly to identify new market opportunities and then to respond quickly and flexibly to them.”

He said the business has sought to maintain a well thought-out and clear brand proposition as a premium-quality artisan bakery – an approach that emphasises the family heritage of six brothers and the provenance of its products.

“By combining this heritage and commitment to quality products from the best ingredients with contemporary marketing techniques, we’ve set ourselves apart from competitors in what is a very fast-moving and challenging marketplace,” he added.

McErlain’s Bakery in Magherafelt currently employs 173 people.

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