The Henderson Group of Northern Ireland has reported record fresh food sales through its stores over the Christmas period – an increase of more than 8% on the same period last year.
The Mallusk-based company says its extended range of high quality produce from local suppliers can be credited for the spike in sales during the last two weeks of 2013, which saw an overall sales increase of 4.5% across the Spar, Eurospar, Vivo, Vivoxtra and Vivo Essentials stores in Northern Ireland.
The Group highlighted the fact its commitment to local fresh produce in particular helped the convenience market to challenge the multiple supermarkets.
Seasonal products which experienced significant year-on-year growth were Cookstown Gammon Joint (+13%), Dale Farm Double Cream (6%) and Howell House Irish Shortbread (+24%) supplied by Irwin’s Bakery.
Henderson says fresh food now accounts for more than a third of the total annual sales for its retail brands and the division is now aiming to increase this to 50% by improving its local fresh ranges to include sandwiches and meat.
Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director of the Henderson Group, said: “The results from the festive period show us that we are getting it right in responding to shopper demands and are well on our way to achieving our fresh food participation targets.
“Communicating the local links to our shoppers has also driven sales thanks to the heavy-weight above the line marketing spend, both externally and within our stores. It is evident that convenience is the better option at Christmas; it is closer to home, there are less queues and less panic!”
And Neal Kelly, Henderson’s fresh foods director added: “For the past few years our focus has been on introducing more high quality fresh, locally produced food into our stores because that is what our customers tell us they want. While many of them are seeking convenience the provenance of their food is also extremely important to them.
“The Henderson Group is proud that over 75% of its fresh foods have been sourced from local producers on the island of Ireland, and the majority of its festive fayre came from some of Northern Ireland’s best growers and suppliers, with a short journey from farm to fork.”