It might be the Fields of Athenry that are most familiar to an international audience – particularly on the sporting stage – but the Foods of the same town are fast catching up in terms of global recognition.
Because Foods of Athenry – the company that literally rose from the ashes after a fire wiped them out four years ago – are now attracting online orders from as far away as the Middle East.
And that’s on top of the huge deals they’re now secured with blue chip stores like Harrod’s and speciality distributor Cotswold Fayre in the UK – all in the last four months.
Industry acclaim has been pouring in as well for the family-run operation based in Kilconeiron – they were the only West of Ireland winner of a Guild Writers of Ireland Food Award in February, to add to the 37 awards it had already garnered.
The bakery was established by Paul and Siobhan Lawless in 2004 out of “a mixture of necessity and a love for good food”.
They replaced the milking cows with mixers and ovens, moving from a full-time dairy enterprise to a bakery – and in 2011 they added a dedicated gluten free facility so they could expand their love of good food into certified gluten free, and/or vegan products.
But 2011 was also the year that a fire razed the business to the ground – an experience that, in hindsight, Siobhan believes is part of the reason they’ve now succeed so well.
Because on top of “hard work and perseverance” it was this ability to “pick ourselves up and coming back stronger” that has reaped such rewards.
Foods of Athenry are now making waves in the UK, where they continue to bring a taste of rural Galway across the Irish Sea. And in January they secured deals with Harrods and Cotswold Fayre.
“We are very excited to be working with two such prestigious names, which will allow more people in the UK to experience our deliciously healthy products,” said Siobhan.
“We firmly believe that good food promotes good health, and so we bake from scratch using original recipes on the family farm. And all come with a guaranteed high taste profile.”
They also operate an Online Shop on their website to expand their offering further afield – and they recently had their first order from Dubai!
It has been quite the meteoric rise for the small rural business to global free-from’ provider – and one suspects that their recipe for success will see them on many more menus before they’re done.
New President for Local Ireland
The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers around the country, is Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan.
Mr Linehan takes over the presidency from Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune. His appointment was confirmed at the recent Annual General Meeting of Local Ireland at Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar, Westmeath.
Mr Linehan, who has served as Vice President of the organisation for the last two years, said: “The coming years are a very important time for local publishers with many important issues to be addressed, including the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations, defamation reform, the role and support for local publishers in public service reporting and helping publishers develop commercial digital offerings.”
Speaking at the AGM, Mr McGuire acknowledged the work done by the Executive in the past two years under the direction of Executive Director, Bob Hughes, on several projects related to the publishing industry but most especially the successful conclusion of the long-running campaign for the abolition of VAT on newspapers.
He also wished Mr Linehan the very best in his new role as President of the association for the next two years.
Mr Hughes thanked Mr McGuire for his leadership and support during his term of office and said he looked forward to working with Mr Linehan on the key policy priorities for the association, including Government supports, Government advertising, fair remuneration for content from the tech platforms and the reform of the legislation for defamation.
Local Ireland members also elected Seán Mahon, Managing Director of the Southern Star, as Vice President for the next two years.
Employers’ group hears of key challenges facing businesses in the region
The shortage of affordable housing is the single biggest impediment in attracting and retaining workers in the West, according to business group Ibec.
At a ‘Regional Insights Series’ meeting in the Galmont Hotel in Galway last week, employers were told that capacity constraints and labour supply are the key challenges facing business growth in the region.
Ibec Head of Regional Policy Helen Leahy said: “There must be greater focus by government on enhancing quality of life issues such as housing and infrastructure which are driving labour shortages in the region.
“Ibec’s vision for the West is to realise its potential to become a globally competitive location. An inadequate supply of affordable housing is now the single largest impediment to attracting and retaining talented workers, without whom business investment and expansions are not possible.
“Labour shortages are a real concern for businesses in the region. People decide where to live and work based on quality of life and access to high quality services and amenities. Industry tends to follow talent, and in this regard, the region needs to have all the building blocks in place as the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level,” said Ms Leahy.
Amongst Ibec’s priorities for the West are:
- Addressing housing and infrastructure challenges
- Transitioning towards a new growth model with Net Zero energy powered by Atlantic offshore wind resources
- Adapting businesses to the new economic realities
- Enhancing capacity and skillsets to achieve sustainable development objectives
- Investment in people and skills
- Creating competitive advantage through digitalisation
- Innovation as a key driver of productivity growth
Survey finds one in five retailers in Galway want to go fully cashless
One in five Galway businesses want to go fully cashless, as the move towards card payments and tapping continues unabated post-Covid.
In all, 22% of Galway businesses would like to be fully cashless, according to a survey carried out by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), a provider of payment technology solutions, which asked Irish businesses about the current payment landscape as well as business confidence and concerns.
Over one-third (36%) of Galway businesses were unaware there is no contactless limit on mobile wallets – just below the national average – while 54% believe the increase in card over cash transactions has helped them run their business.
Six out of ten Galway businesses expect to grow this year despite the cost-of-living crisis and running costs dominating as key concerns; 62% believe their business will grow over the next twelve months despite global economic uncertainty.
Unsurprisingly cost-of-living increases and running costs were the main concerns the majority of businesses had.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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