One of McErlain's Bakery brothers invests £1m to open new business

Brian McErlain (right) with Eamonn Taggart, trading manager with the Henderson Group
Gary McDonald Business Editor

ONE of the brothers behind the once family-run McErlain's Bakery in south Derry which went into administration 18 months ago has opened a new craft bakery of his own in Creagh, near Magherafelt.

Brian McErlain, who has extensive business and food production expertise, has invested £1 million into Bertie's Bakery, which he has named after his mother Roberta.

And he says he hopes to triple the current staff numbers from 10 at present to 30 in the next 12 months.

Brian (57) had been managing director of McErlain's bakery when it collapsed in August 2018, and he stayed on after its sale to Paul Allen, chief executive of the Tayto Group in Tandragee.

But three months later he stood down, breaking the last remaining link between the business and the six brothers who had been at the forefront of the company.

His new bakery, which operates from a 15,000sq ft site in Creagh, will produce freshly-baked products across 12 ranges.

"Bertie's Bakery is named after my mother who, along with my father Joe, were founders of the original McErlain's bakery in 1968," he said.

"Her mantra was 'don't sell anything you wouldn't want to eat yourself' and it's that core value which is driving this new venture."

He added: "We'd been planning to open the bakery for months when the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown came into effect, but despite the unprecedented circumstances, we realised we had an important part to play in terms of meeting the surge in demand for fresh food products.

"It's early days and the conditions have been challenging but initial customer and retailer response to our freshness and quality has exceeded our expectations."

Henderson Retail became the business's first customer when it signed an exclusive deal to supply 10 of its company-owned Spar stores and one EuroSpar operating in the north west.

But that number has since risen to 23 outlets across the north.

Neal Kelly, fresh foods director at Henderson Group, said: "Core to our business is maximising local sourcing and supporting agri-food businesses, and Brian's extensive knowledge of the bakery sector combined with his commitment to quality, value and innovation is a perfect fit with us.

"The comprehensive range of products offered by Bertie's Bakery is an exciting addition to our customer offering and we look forward to further developing our partnership with the business."

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