Close to 100 new jobs are being created by with news of a £7 million investment by a Newry-based sandwich business.
Around Noon was founded by Francis and Sheila Chambers family 30 years ago, with production originally taking place at their kitchen table!
It started by providing sandwiches but extended its business to included breakfasts and wraps and baguettes, as well as cereals and bars, salads and hot food.
The business has its headquarters in Newry and other facilities in Slough and in Dublin.
Around Noon says its aim is to be the UK and Ireland’s leading manufacturer of ‘food on the move’.
On Monday, it announced that it is investing over £7 million in a major expansion to develop sales in the Great Britain and Republic of Ireland markets.
The expansion will also see the company create 94 jobs.
Invest Northern Ireland is providing financial assistance for 54 of the new jobs, several of which are at director and manager level.
It is also supporting market development activity and the implementation of a new production management system to drive efficiency improvements in the company and help the company to scale.
Around Noon, which this year celebrates 30 years in business, produces and distributes a range of ‘Food-to-Go’ and bakery products, targeting the upper-premium end of the market.
Employing 328 people, it has facilities in Newry, Dublin and Slough.
Commenting on the investment, Gareth Chambers, CEO of Around Noon, said:“Our goal is to become the UK and Ireland’s leading manufacturer of premium ‘food on the move’.
“We are targeting markets in Great Britain and Republic of Ireland and aim to increase sales outside Northern Ireland by over £13 million per annum over the next couple of years.
“We are investing in management, key staff and business development activities. The support from Invest NI will enable us to realise our growth plans and ensure that the Northern Ireland economy benefits.”
Around Noon sells its products under the Scribbles, Sweet Things and So Natural brands and also provides a bespoke design and packaging service for clients which want to sell under their own brand name.
Invest NI has offered £592,000 of assistance to the company.
Welcoming the investment, Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s Director of Scaling, said: “Invest NI is keen to support companies with potential to scale, based on a focused export strategy.
“Around Noon took part in our Leadership 4 Growth international transformation programme which has helped its management team develop the skills and strategies that will take the company to the next level.
“As well as supporting some of the jobs created by this investment, we are supporting the implementation of an integrated production management system to enable Around Noon to increase control over production yields, manufacturing processes and inventory.
“Around Noon has grown from a small family business to a company with a multi-million pound turnover and with this investment will be well placed to take advantage of further opportunities in the ‘food-to-go’ market within Great Britain and Ireland.”
Around Noon is one of the fastest-growing food companies in the UK and Ireland.
It has appeared in the Sunday Times Virgin FastTrack 100 for the past two years. It was also listed as one of the top 10 fastest growing food and drink businesses in the UK and Ireland 2019 in the prestigious annual listing by Alantra and The Grocer.
Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady welcomed the news.
He said: “This is a firm which already employs hundreds of people in Newry and its other sites in Dublin and England.
“This jobs boost will also have a knock-on impact in the local economy.
“I wish this firm well and hope that it will continue to grow in the future.”