Invest NI opens door for Belfast’s Hellbent as it launches its first SPAR business in Scotland

Hellbent, the Belfast-based producer of Northern Irish beef blended with South African spices, is now supplying its distinctive sausages, meatballs and burgers, to more than 50 SPAR supermarkets across Scotland.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 6:00 am

Hellbent, the Belfast-based producer of Northern Irish beef blended with South African spices, is now supplying its distinctive sausages, meatballs and burgers, to more than 50 SPAR supermarkets across Scotland.

The company, owned by Louis Ludik and Schalk van der Merwe, has won its first business with SPAR Scotland operated by main franchise operator C J Lang, one of the country’s largest independent companies. SPAR is the largest symbol group in Scotland.

The listing for Hellbent in SPAR stores follows the Northern Ireland company’s success last year in winning first business with Aldi-Scotland and sales to Planet Plenty in London.

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Louis Ludik and Schalk van der Merwe of Hellbent

As with the business with Aldi-Scotland, Hellbent’s agreement with CJ Lang/ SPAR was facilitated by Invest Northern Ireland which hosted a ‘meet the buyer’ event, introducing the team at Hellbent with the key buyer in SPAR.

Louis Ludik says: “Winning business with many SPAR supermarkets in Scotland, the country’s biggest grocery network, significantly strengthens our position in this immensely important marketplace in Britain.

“We were delighted to have been involved with Invest NI in the event which led to the introduction to the CJ Lang buyer and the opportunity it provided for sampling our unique sausages, meatballs and burgers.

“We followed up the initial sampling and eventually secured this very encouraging development for the business we are focused on expanding outside Northern Ireland,” he adds.

Welcoming the deal, John Hood, Invest NI’s director of Food & Drink, said: “Our strong working partnership with Hellbent over the last three years is supporting the company to thrive.

“In response to Covid-19, we introduced a virtual approach to support Northern Ireland companies to continue to sell where possible and look to new ways to secure business in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“Our latest virtual meet the buyer event has clearly reaped significant benefits for Hellbent.

“It’s great to see this work pay off and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Hellbent as it grows its business further.” 

Hellbent, in addition to its developing business in Great Britain, has achieved success in the Republic of Ireland with Aldi-Ireland. Customers in Northern Ireland now include Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Henderson Group EUROSPAR supermarkets.

The company was also listed recently by Aldi-Ireland as part of a Christmas promotion to support artisan food and drink producers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Other local producers listed were Burren Balsamics, Richhill, Co Armagh and Irish Blackbutter of Portrush, Co Antrim. All the companies are featuring in Aldi’s widely circulated promotional material.

Louis continues: “Aldi is becoming an immensely important business contact for us and is a privilege to be working with them now in both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

“We are extremely appreciative of all the advice and support we have received from Invest NI over the years about how to grow our business successfully and profitably. The Food & Drink Division has opened so many important doors for us with key retailers especially outside Northern Ireland, such as Aldi-Scotland and CJ Lang, and enabled us to grow sales in key markets such as the Republic of Ireland and Scotland,” he says.

Based in Dundee, CJ Lang recently reported a doubling of its profits and outlined plans for its biggest-ever expansion in its existing network of over 100 convenience stores across country.

“We’ve also been able to take part in a series of trade shows which helped us gain experience outside Northern Ireland and subsequently to win worthwhile business,” he says.

In addition, the company was recently accepted for the successful and popular Invest NI ‘Going Dutch’ programme which is providing an opportunity to learn more about the important market for beef products and to build business contacts in the Netherlands.

“We are looking forward to exploring with the very active team in Invest NI’s Food & Drink Division other market opportunities for our range of Boerewors coiled beef sausages, meatballs and burgers as well as the original dishes we’ve developed from locally sourced pork,” he adds.

Hellbent was established in March 2018 to develop a range of meat products including South African style Boerewors beef sausages, burgers and meatballs. The company sources its beef from Corries family farm and retail business, which is headquartered at Greyabbey, near Newtownards in Co Down.

Louis and Schalk both came to Northern Ireland from South Africa to play for Ulster Rugby and subsequently decided to settle here. Louis retired from Ulster last year and has put his marketing and management qualifications to good use in developing Hellbent. They chose the unusual name as a mark of their determination to succeed in the business.

Louis continues to coach rugby with the Instonians club in Belfast, while Schalk is now the player-coach at Lurgan Rugby Club in Co Armagh.

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