MORE jobs are to be created at a Listowel company thanks in no small way to its recent entry into the UK food market.
The creation of at least six new jobs by Christmas at Listowel firm Prestige Foods, based at the Clieveragh Industrial Estate, was hailed this week as a success story for local employment at a time when medium and small businesses are still struggling hard.
While the company expects to create six new jobs by Christmas, The Kerryman understands that more might follow as the company's orders increase in response to the new UK demand.
Prestige Foods secured a contract with Musgraves in the UK and their dessert line will be appearing in UK Londis and Budgen stores. Breaking into the UK market marks a milestone for MD John O'Connor, who founded the company eight years ago after selling his delicatessan business in the centre of Listowel.
The company was helped a great deal by funding through North and East Kerry Development for the upgrading of the Listowel plant, which employs 64, to new British standards (BRC).
"One of the first things you are asked by potential clients in the UK is whether or not you are BRC standard," Mr O'Connor told The Kerryman. "If not, they simply won't do business with you. We're BRC-standard with five years but were required to invest recently to bring ourselves in line with new criteria and it wouldn't have been possible without the help of the NEKD funding," he explained.
The Prestige expansion is doubly impressive as it comes at a time when the company found its margins squeezed tight following a spike in wheat prices worldwide. "The really bad weather this year had a profound effect on wheat prices so we are caught in a bit of a vice." A root-and-branch review of the company's operations helped it reduce costs significantly, however, and innovation was key.
"Our success is down to innovation and we have great customers!" Prestige now supply Musgraves, Dunnes Stores, Aldi, Superquinn, and more.