Record-breaking year as Mash Direct brings Irish spuds to America

Mash Direct founders Martin and Tracy Hamilton with sons Lance and Jack
Gary McDonald Business Editor

PUTTING Comber spuds on American dinner tables for the first time has contributed to vegetable side dish company Mash Direct reporting record results in its last trading year.

Turnover at the the sixth-generation family-run Co Down firm rose by 6.2 per cent to £19.95 million in the year to February, achieved by generating sales in new global markets.

At the start of this year the company secured a significant export win to supply a number of grocery stores across the US including Key Food, Food Emporium, Brooklyn Fare and SuperFresh.

Mash Direct has also seen success in the Middle East, winning its first contract in Dubai and then exporting to Bahrain and Qatar.

But the UK and Ireland remains its key market, and according to its financial report filed at Companies House, more than half of its product portfolio (52.6 per cent) is currently sold in Britain.

Bottom line profit at the company slipped back just over 3 per cent from £2.1m to £1.7m, but this was due primarily to the distribution and storage of £301,900 of stock held for export markets.

The number of primary produce suppliers now partnering the Mash Direct business is 67 (up from 63 in 2017), while the company's workforce increased from 172 to 186, bumping up its overall wages bill from £3.3m to £3.6m.

The directors - who comprise husband and wife team Martin and Tracy Hamilton, their sons Jack and Lance, and three others - were paid a combined £142,841 (up from £86,891 previously).

Mash Direct - which last month was named Family Business of the Year at the Business Eye First Trust Bank Business Awards - was founded in 2004 when the Hamiltons chose to diversify their existing Ballyrainey farm in County Down (the family has a history in potato farming dating back to the 1800s).

Since then, the company - winner of 21 Great Awards -has grown from 70 to 1400 acres, and as well as the US and Middle East, it also exports to Hong Kong and across Europe.

It currently produces more than 40 convenient vegetable dishes ranging from traditional accompaniments like mashed potato to complete ready-made meals, with one of its packs being sold every second in 2018.

It is currently listed in 6,500 stores including more than 1,000 in Britain including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose.

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