11 NI suppliers embark on supermarket’s six month ‘growth and innovation’ programme

A six month-long programme which aims to boost the local agri-food sector by maximising its business potential with Asda has been launched by the retailer’s President and CEO, Andy Clarke.

The Supplier Development Academy (SDA), which kick-starts Asda’s programme of support for Year of Food & Drink 2016, is a bespoke training and development programme and is backed by Invest NI and Scotland Food & Drink.

Eleven local food companies have signed up to the SDA – five of which only began trading with Asda in 2015. Each will be involved in a series of training sessions, store visits and mentor workshops which will promote innovation, develop key skills and streamline bureaucracy and administration.

With over £300million of produce being annually sourced from 105 island of Ireland food producers, Asda is keen to extend its support for the sector by creating more opportunities for its suppliers, both in NI and in the GB market.

Speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland where he met each of the companies participating in the SDA to get better understanding of their product range, Andy Clarke said:
“As part of our commitment to Year of Food & Drink, we’re proud to support our suppliers through this unique Academy which is entirely focused on growth. When we first ran this initiative in 2012, participating suppliers achieved a combined sales increase of 20% and we hope to replicate this in 2016 – particularly by helping these suppliers gain more shelf space in our GB stores.

“This also reflects how we are responding to our NI customers who have sent the clear message that they want to be able to buy the local products that they trust and enjoy,” Clarke added.