Rising from the ashes, Foods of Athenry signs Tesco contract
Bye bye bread — From the fields of Athenry to Tesco UK Distribution Centre in Rugby, Warwickshire Siobhan Lawless, Paul Lawless and Loretto Kiernan of The Foods of Athenry wave off one of the loads for Tesco
By Roisin Peddle
A year after a fire which completely gutted its kitchen, Galway company Foods of Athenry is celebrating after signing a contract with Tesco, supplying the chain’s outlets in the UK and Ireland with gluten-free bakery products.
The company, owned by the Lawless family, will launch their gluten-free product range into both Tesco and Dunnes Stores this week. Earlier this month, they began distributing produce through Musgraves and BWG, supplying stores such as Spar, Eurospar, Mace, SuperValu, and Centra. By the end of the summer, it is hoped that the range will be available nationwide.
The baked goods will be sold in the ‘free from’ category in almost 300 UK and 200 Irish stores. It is projected that the sales in the UK alone could amount to more than €500,000 over the next year.
“To have our products on the shelves of the major multiples after such a devastating event is a momentous occasion for us,” said the company’s director, Paul Lawless.
“We worked increasingly hard to rebuild the business and could not have achieved this without the support of our family, the multiple retailers, Bord Bia, and our insurance company FBD. We look forward to building these relationships in the future and increasing our product portfolio both nationally and internationally.”
On June 29 2011 Foods of Athenry’s bakery was completely destroyed by a kitchen fire which burned for more than 24 hours, just 30 feet away from the Lawless family home. Due to the resulting halt in production, the company suffered an estimated a loss in revenue of up to half a million euro. Foods of Athenry returned to full production in January of this year.
Siobhan Lawless said the company’s journey has been an incredible one.
“We started out over 12 years ago supplying local restaurants and retailers with freshly baked produce,” she said. “Since then, our ethos has not changed. We create unique recipes using only the finest natural ingredients that are free from all artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners, and preservatives.
“There was a need for more variety in the gluten free baked goods and confectionery sector as up until recently, most products on Irish shelves were imported with many considered less appetising than their standard counterparts.”
The Lawlesses started out as dairy farmers, beginning their bakery in 2000, and focused their attentions entirely on the bakery in 2004. Coeliac disease affects one in 10 Irish people, and the Foods of Athenry continously engages in product developments, taste-testing all its gluten-free products against the standard range to maintain the award-winning taste profile. The company has 20 products in its regular and gluten-free bakery range,