Investment by family firm brings 24 jobs to Kilkeel

James Cunningham Jr pictured with his father James Snr and Kevin Fitzpatrick from First Trust Bank
James Cunningham Jr pictured with his father James Snr and Kevin Fitzpatrick from First Trust Bank

One of Co Down’s longest established businesses, Cunningham Butchers has created 24 new jobs following a significant investment in its Kilkeel premises.

With the support of First Trust Bank, the family firm has opened a new bistro, fresh food hall and renovated its multi-award winning butchery.

The butchers is one of only a handful of Northern Ireland stores that boasts a Himalayan salt chamber for dry-ageing beef. With this expansion, the shop now also provides customers with fresh produce from a deli, hot food counter and bakery, and also makes its own homemade gelato ice-cream.

Experiencing year on year growth for the last six years, Cunningham Butchers had three staff members in 2010 and with this latest investment now employs over 50 people. The family run business produces more than 1,000 different product lines including extra lean and gluten free varieties, and supplies its range to local retailers including EuroSpar.

“Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry is thriving, and this is partly down to the innovative mind-set of local food businesses that are ready to jump to the challenge and modernise their operations in response to market demands,” said James Cunningham Jnr, the fourth generation of his family to run the business which is soom to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

“Our own expansion meets a growing need for products that don’t compromise on taste or quality, including those of health conscious consumers.

“Thankfully, our reputation for preparing food in a traditional way but with a modern twist has grown over the years. We’re delighted to open our expanded premises with the support of First Trust Bank and broaden our range where now people can purchase everything from a dry aged steak to low fat and gluten free ready meals. With the addition of our Bistro, we are now offering customers a restaurant that supplies itself from start to finish, providing customers with one of the freshest dining experiences possible, found only in a handful of places anywhere in Ireland.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Kilkeel business manager, First Trust Bank said; “Key to the success of Cunningham Butchers has been their unwavering commitment to high quality food that also meets customer’s expectations for choice, value and convenience.

“As well as growing their own business, the firm is helping boost business around the wider Co Down area through job creation and local supply opportunities.

“With in-depth experience and knowledge handed down through generations, James Cunningham Jnr and his father James Snr came to us with a well-thought out business idea that demonstrated market foresight and ambition.

“We are delighted to support their expansion plans and are confident that their ability to mix heritage and tradition with innovation will serve them well as they continue to grow.”