Lidl Northern Ireland today (Tuesday) announced the launch of its Kick Start Supplier Development Programme for 2022, welcoming applications from artisan producers across the region keen to grow their brand, build their supply network and reach more consumers.
Launching the ground-breaking programme for a fifth consecutive year, Lidl NI also confirmed that it has signed an annual supply deal worth £340,000 with Holywood, County Down-based spicy meat maker Hellbent to supply its succulent Chakalaka Boerewors to all Lidl stores within the island of Ireland on a permanent basis and for a limited summer promotion in UK stores.
The brainchild of South African-born Ulster Rugby aces Louis Ludik and Schalk Van der Merwe, Hellbent secured a coveted place on Lidl NI’s Kick Start programme only last year.
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Proving a big hit with shoppers at NI’s fastest-growing supermarket retailer, Hellbent has grown exponentially since then and this latest deal with Lidl Northern Ireland will help propel its success even further.
Hellbent’s eye-catching products combine a delicious fusion of South African flavours quality Irish meat produce, creating a new taste sensation that pays homage to both countries and cultures.
Hellbent’s Louis Ludik, said: “The Lidl NI Kick Start programme has been an incredible boost for our business. It’s a great way for any small business to get a taste of what it takes to supply a major retailer. The programme supported us at every level – from help to upscale production and meet larger orders, to marketing and business management support and of course enabling us to reach more customers than ever with our products.
“Our full range of products were made available on limited promotion across all 215 Lidl stores within the island of Ireland which really opened up our customer base and allowed us to grow our brand into new markets. It was a very proud moment for us to go into our local Lidl NI store and see our products rubbing shoulders with some of the bigger brand names and amazing local suppliers.
“It’s incredible to think that just 12 months later, we’ve now secured a permanent listing with our chakalaka boerewors – one of our most popular products. It’s an exciting time for us and we’re ‘hellbent’ on growing our business with Lidl NI.
“I would encourage any local producers in the region to apply for the Kick Start programme. Whether you need help growing your business, or if you need support in breaking into the supermarket category, or simply want to boost your export potential, Lidl NI’s Kick Start programme has it all.”
The Lidl NI Kick Start programme is designed to help small and medium-sized local food and drink producers grow their brand, build their supply network and reach new customer audiences, upping their potential to open up new export opportunities.
As well as the limited edition in-store promotion, Kick Start also provides ambitious producers with free business development seminars delivered by a panel of Lidl and wider industry experts, covering key disciplines such as quality control, supply chain management, branding and distribution.
Since its launch in 2017, the programme has grown exponentially and is now delivered in partnership with the NI Food & Drink Association (NIFDA), providing a significant boost to the programme and additional benefits and opportunities for selected suppliers.
More than 50 Northern Irish artisan products and dozens of local businesses have been led to success through the Kick Start Supplier Development Programme including Copeland Gin in Donaghadee, Refuge Hot Chocolate brewed in Belfast and Noisy Snacks from Newtownards to name just a few.
Chris Bell, buying director at Lidl Ireland & NI, added: “At Lidl NI we are committed to supporting local suppliers and one of the ways in which we do that is through our innovative Kick Start programme which champions the local agri-food sector.
“I’m thrilled to announce a new, permanent listing with Hellbent and to welcome them to our supplier network which has now grown to more than 50 local producers, reflecting the abundance of quality produce which is grown, harvested and crafted here in NI.
“Hellbent were fantastic to work with last year as part of the Kick Start programme and the new deal announced today represents exactly what the Kick Start initiative is all about – growing small and medium-sized producers to realise their full potential. As we launch the 2022 programme, I’m excited to see what this year’s intake yields. Applications are now open for local producers to secure a place on this year’s scheme by
The Lidl Kick Start Supplier Development Programme is just one of the many ways in which the retailer supports local suppliers.
Last year, Lidl NI struck a deal worth £500,000 annually with County Antrim coffee roasters SlumberJack Coffee to supply their Italian Espresso whole bean and ground coffee across all stores within the island of Ireland. Other supplier deals signed in 2021 include an expanded contract worth £2.7 million with Irwin’s Bakery and a significant £24 million deal with Fermanagh-based bakery, Crust & Crumb, for an expanded pizza line.
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