Corries, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful farm-based butchers and food producers, has recently acquired Knotts Bakery in Newtownards.
And the new partnership is creating an exciting new retailing concept for shoppers in Belfast and north Down that will also offer extensive opportunities to other local artisans and smaller food and drink processors.
The acquisition of the popular bakery in Newtownards, which was established in 1979 and has won acclaim for the quality and outstanding taste of a wide range in-house baked goods, was announced by William Corrie (36), owner of the family farm food business with brother Gareth.
The brothers had earlier acquired Four Seasons Greengrocers and Delicatessen in Cherryvalley, east Belfast which provided an extensive range of in-house ready meals and delivery services for fruit and vegetables and other foods, especially cheese and charcuterie, over many years.
The popular deli is currently being extensively renovated to create Fayre by Corries, a new fine food hall scheduled to open its doors on June 20. The modern food hall will feature a Corries meat counter, baked goods from Knotts Bakery and an extensive fresh fruit and vegetable section from the former deli. Fayre, in addition, will have significant space for other artisan producers from across Northern Ireland.
Corries will be closing the existing butchery business in the same block at the Cherryvalley shopping centre.
Corries, which has an existing seven shops in Belfast, Dundonald, Newtownards and Holywood, is retaining the three existing Knotts Bakery outlets in the same centres and a fully equipped bakery unit on the Crawfordsburn Road in Newtownards.
Andrew and Sharon Getty, the previous owners of Knotts Bakery, are continuing to provide advice.
Fayre by Corries will gradually be rolled out to other existing and suitable farm shops owned by company, William explains: “We are tremendously excited by acquisition of Knotts, one of the best-known and most respected family bakeries here. Knotts Bakery has a very strong identify and is synonymous with consistently excellent baked goods. We’ve been developing the new Fayre by Corries food hall concept for shoppers for some considerable time and will start rolling out this month. There are strong synergies between both Corries and Knotts.
“While two of the three Knotts bakery shops are likely to remain as they are, the main outlet in the centre of Newtownards offers significant scope for further developments for shoppers.
“It’s an immensely attractive building featuring high ceilings and pillars with lots of space. We are planning, for example, to use space upstairs for stylish afternoon tea sessions.
“We’ll also be building on the popularity of the café there and working closely Neil Graham, its excellent chef and team,”
Four Seasons Deli in Cherryvalley also offered a strong presence and close links with dozens of local food and soft beverage suppliers.
“We are also developing these relationships and plan to offer as much support as possible to local artisans and smaller food and drink companies. There are some really outstanding food and soft drink producers here, and we are keen to help them reach out to our shoppers,” he adds.
The talented brothers have a successful track record in the development of new retail concepts. The Corries Meats shop on the Ormeau Road in Belfast was extended in 2015 by the family business from meat to the provision of hot and cold deli foods for ‘grab and go’ for office workers, workmen and students.
While William grew up on the family’s 100-acre Drumhilla beef and dairy farm, he wasn’t keen on a career in farming and turned instead initially to retailing meat from a shop on the successful farm and then opening his first distinctively branded Corries Meats at Ballyhackamore in east Belfast at the age of 21.
The chain now features seven farm shops and a well-equipped bakery producing a wide range of pies, packaged foods and ready meals for retail.
Knotts Bakery, a family owned craft bakery and hugely successful coffee shop in Newtownards, was established in 1979 and also has a significant catering business, delivering luxury baked goods for functions and other social gatherings.
The family also invested around £600,000 to refurbish the factory, including a Himalayan salt chamber, which allowed them to add value and additional flavour and texture to their products and appeal to a more selective generation of consumers.
While William and Gareth are focused on the expanding retail operation, another brother, Richard, runs the farm and especially the extensive dairy business.
Together, the three brothers also contribute a considerable amount of charity work in the community and are dedicated to sustainability. The farm’s award-winning pedigree herd of Limousin cattle is fed with grass and clover for most of the year. The business, in addition, offers full traceability with all its animals and a very high level of animal husbandry.