Supermarket group Lidl is championing local suppliers with the roll-out of its Kick Start supplier development programme aimed at giving food and drink companies in the province the chance to have their products stocked in more than 190 Lidl stores across the island of Ireland.
The programme is designed specifically to provide small and medium-sized suppliers with the support they need to grow their brand and build their supply network.
It was successfully trialled in the Irish Republic lasy year, providing a valuable ‘hand up’ for more than 50 suppliers.
This year, up to 80 new products, sourced across the island of Ireland, will be selected to feature in a limited edition Kick Start in-store food promotion on sale in September 2018.
From these, three products will go on to be showcased to some 150 global buyers at Lidl’s International Food Expo opening the door to potential listings in 29 Lidl countries across the world, including the US.
Warning suppliers not to miss the April 15 deadline for applications, commercial director Liam Casey said the programme was an unmissable opportunity for local suppliers.
“We are extremely proud of our Northern Ireland supplier portfolio, and see Kick Start as an opportunity to support more local companies, particularly those who are keen to enhance and expand their distribution capabilities.
“Lidl recognises that moving into higher-volume markets, and gaining national, international and indeed global reach, is a challenge for many SMEs and Kick Start is aimed precisely at equipping local companies to meet that challenge head on.”
The programme, which represents an investment of almost £180,000 by Lidl, will also see all entrants benefit from a series of free business development seminars delivered by a panel of Lidl and wider industry experts and covering such topics as quality control, packaging, marketing and brand building.