Local artisan food manufacturer and retailer Tom and Ollie has secured £300,000 of funding through Whiterock Finance’s Growth Loan Fund II to help grow its business.
The investment has enabled the company to open a new production facility, expand its online presence and retail division and create nine new jobs.
Belfast-based Tom and Ollie specialises in producing handcrafted Mediterranean deli foods with over 65 lines made in-house, including hummus, pesto, tapenades, harissa paste and a variety of marinated olives and peppers. The company prides itself on producing an offering that has an authentic Mediterranean taste, is market fresh and preservative free.
The funding has also helped the team develop its website and add an online delivery service to its offering, with over 300 products now available for next day delivery across Ireland.
The Tom and Ollie team has over 20 years’ experience in the sourcing, production and supply of Mediterranean deli foods. They work with a network of carefully selected growers and suppliers across Europe, Turkey and North Africa and sell to the wholesale and retail markets in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK including Dunnes, Sheridans Cheesemongers, Nisa, Spar and over 40 independent retailers.
Finance for the £30m Growth Loan Fund II – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – is provided by Invest Northern Ireland as part of its Access to Finance portfolio, and part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.
Invest NI has also offered the company £48,000 towards the creation of the nine new jobs.
Shay Mullan, Director at Tom and Ollie said: “The investment has been brilliant for us. The pandemic was devastating for our wholesale market and being able to invest in our website and operate a delivery service has been invaluable to our business during a year of lockdowns. We can now deliver an unrivalled selection of the best of Irish and European foods to doorsteps across the region. We also developed a full retail offering which is available across the Island in a number of local shops, farm shops and large retailers.”
Before expanding into wholesale and retail the business was one of the first traders to open a stall at St George’s Market following its refurbishment in 1997. With an established and loyal customer base, markets have remained at the heart of the company with the business among the first traders to return to St George’s Market when it re-opened in April 2021 after the latest lockdown.
Shay Mullan, Director at Tom and Ollie added: “The growth that we have seen in the retail side of the business and the online delivery service has enabled us to thrive during a difficult year. We are enthusiastically awaiting the return of the hospitality sector to its full potential and are excited by what the next year will bring for our business.”
Jenna Mairs, Senior Investment Manager at Whiterock Finance said: “It’s great to be able to support local artisan-makers, especially those with skills and knowledge like the team at Tom and Ollie. The tenacity of the business and its ability to pivot quickly was exceptional during the pandemic when their traditional revenue streams generated from foodservice wholesale was non-existent. The ability to adapt and develop both a retail offering and an online delivery service is a testament to the passion the team at Tom and Ollie put into their craft and Whiterock has been delighted to be able to support that process.”
William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI, said: “In recent years, we have supported Tom and Ollie to help it build its sales in external markets. Our latest support for nine new jobs, combined with this Growth Loan Fund II investment from our suite of Access to Finance funds, will see the company expand its business to achieve further success internationally. We very much look forward to continuing our support with the company in the years to come.”