NORTHERN Ireland’s unique convenience food offering from The Hungry Vegan is moving up a gear with its expansion into new premises in Mallusk Enterprise Park.
From its humble beginnings as owner John Darby sought to find a vegan sandwich, it now employs 14 people and stocks more than 20 locations across Belfast and Lisburn with ‘on-the-go’ convenience food with plans to provide more throughout Northern Ireland.
They join more 61 other businesses in the burgeoning Mallusk Enterprise Park portfolio, enjoying a range of support services.
“The size and scale of our new premises means that our expansion plans will be future proof,” said John. “Emma Garrett and the team in MEP have been instrumental throughout our early growth stages.
“They have provided mentoring support which has guided us through many peaks and troughs.”
Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, Emma Garrett explained that The Hungry Vegan is a perfect fit for her own reasons as well as the support they are offering a developing company.
“We were very excited to welcome John to the Park,” she said.” I myself, a life-long vegetarian, realised the great potential for his business as more and more people are enjoying the benefits associated with having a meat-free diet yet there are still limited options available in our high street convenience stores.
“The Enterprise Park was established back in 1992 to support entrepreneurs such as John at start-up stage and this remains the case today.”
The Hungry Vegan began life in 2016 as The Honest Vegan restaurant on Belfast’s Lisburn Road at a time when John his own words struggled to find vegan food: “Restaurants, cafes and supermarkets simply had no vegan options unless you were a fan of dry salad bowls and tins of fruit salad” he said.
As more restaurants were offering vegan options on their menus John realised there was another business option opening.
“For me the next challenge was providing fresh vegan offerings into convenience stores across Northern Ireland,” added John.
“This is why we evolved into handmade vegan food production. We quickly grew out of our first catering kitchen and we were thrilled to find our new home in Mallusk Enterprise Park.”
For Emma, the enterprise park offers practical support to companies such as The Hungry Vegan.
“We offer a full range of free business support services to individuals at each and every stage of their entrepreneurial journey,” she said. “We offer the Pre-Start Exploring Enterprise Programme, the start-up Go For It Programme, the growth Optimal Programme, the growth Co-Innovate Programme and Start-Up Loans from £500 up to £25k.”
But it can be the more practical support that helps businesses lift off, such as in human resources.
“Many of the small businesses we work with require additional staff resources to grow,” said Emma, adding: “This is often a daunting area for individuals when they have had no experience of recruiting or managing staff.
“This is where the Optimal Programme can help. Businesses can avail of up to 5 days mentoring support from a specialist consultant which will alleviate their fears and mitigate the risks associated with employing staff.”
The Hungry Vegan is setting off on the Optimal Programme as part of its ongoing growth.
As international organisations warning that reducing meat consumption can help alleviate climate change and campaigns such as ‘Veganuary’ John notes that 70% of those who buy his products are not vegans themselves, demonstrating the growth potential.
“We are now stocking 23 retailers with five coming on board in the last seven days. We have five more stores to announce in next two weeks with a great announcement coming too.
“Our range can be found in Spar’s, Centra, Queen’s University, Creightons and independents.
“We have had significant interest from investors, which we are currently exploring.”
But more plans are afoot for The Hungry Vegan as they have recently expanded into outside catering and one particular high note recently was to cater for a large wedding with an exclusively vegan menu at Larchfield Estate.
For details on The Hungry Vegan’s amazing food ideas and retailer locations you can follow them on facebook “@thehungryvegan
Mallusk Enterprise Park provide workspace for new & established businesses ranging from 80 – 2000 sq ft
For more details of the support available from Mallusk Enterprise to either start or grow a business email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 90838860.
ASOS to Create Over 180 Jobs in Northern Ireland with new Tech Hub
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today announced that ASOS, one of the world’s leading online fashion retailers, is to invest £14million in a new Tech Hub in Belfast and create 184 new jobs over the next three years.
Welcoming ASOS to Northern Ireland, Gordon Lyons said: “Today’s announcement by ASOS is a clear vote of confidence for Northern Ireland and our strong appeal as an investment location. The development of the new Belfast Tech Hub and the creation of over 180 jobs represents a significant investment in Northern Ireland by the company. In return, our talent base will provide ASOS with the high quality engineering resources it needs to deliver its international growth plans.
“Once in place, the new jobs will contribute almost £6.5million in additional annual salaries to the local economy. Of the new roles, 130 will participate in my Department’s pre-employment Assured Skills training programme which will offer the company a pipeline of skilled people over the next three years.”
The Minister added: “The first Assured Skills Academy with ASOS, focusing on Data Engineering and being delivered by South Eastern Regional College, is open for applications now – I urge anyone who is interested and eligible to apply for this exciting opportunity.”
Speaking about the company’s decision to invest in Northern Ireland, Nick Beighton, CEO, ASOS, said: “As a rapidly growing business at the forefront of online retailing, we’re continually investing in our technology capabilities. Our new hub will provide us with cutting-edge tech expertise to support future growth. Belfast has a wealth of tech talent and we’re excited to be establishing a permanent base in such a vibrant city.”
The new Belfast hub will be operational in early 2022, with 52 dedicated roles in the first year, growing to 184 by 2024, with recruitment already under way. Recruiting across a range of levels and job functions, including engineering and data science, the creation of the new hub in Belfast is part of the wider strategic plans for ASOS’ tech team, which will enable the team to support the continued growth and expansion of ASOS.
Cliff Cohen, Chief Technology Officer, ASOS, said: “ASOS is a fast-growing business and constantly looking to innovate through our technology. As we continue to scale our investment in technology, we are looking to hire talent across engineering roles into our new Tech Hub, and help foster talent in Northern Ireland by supporting its growing reputation as a centre for tech excellence.”
To help secure this project, Invest Northern Ireland has been working with ASOS since 2017, showcasing all that Northern Ireland has to offer. The agency has offered almost £1.2million of support towards the new software engineering roles and the Department for the Economy is funding pre-employment Assured Skills Academy training to the value of almost £1million over three years.
Kevin Holland, Invest NI’s CEO said: “I’m delighted to welcome ASOS to Northern Ireland. Securing this project is yet another tremendous endorsement of our compelling value proposition which includes our highly educated population, underpinned by some of the best educational facilities in the UK. The new roles will offer a range of opportunities for software engineers and analysts, development opportunities for those in the early stages of their tech careers and will provide exciting pathways for people to join Northern Ireland’s digital workforce. We very much look forward to supporting ASOS to grow in Northern Ireland.”
Applications for the ASOS Data Engineering Assured Skills Academy are open until 5.00pm on Friday 22 October 2021. Training will commence for successful applicants on Monday 10 January 2022.
Experience is not required but applicants must be at least 18 years of age and eligible to work in the UK.
More information and details on how to apply are available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/assured-skills
NI Engineering Company, PAC Group, Receive Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation
Belfast-based electrical and mechanical engineering company, PAC Group, has received royal recognition for its innovative carbon fibre preforming technology.
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the UK, with winners personally approved by her Majesty the Queen. The Group were the only company from Northern Ireland to receive the award for the Innovation category in 2021, and were the first Innovation category winner from the province for three years.
The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay O’Boyle, presented the company with the award. She said: “Northern Ireland has a rich and vibrant history of enterprise and innovation. Famous historically for linen and shipbuilding, today it is companies such as PAC Group that proudly carry the innovation torch. This company’s commitment to research and development, and to future-proofing its technology, will ensure its longevity and continued success.”
“The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious and rigorous business awards in the UK, with international regard and recognition. Invariably, it is seen as a highly significant achievement and landmark in any company’s history.”
Founded in 2018, the company has enjoyed a remarkable growth journey, now employing over 40 people at its headquarters in Dargan Crescent, Belfast.
Holding 42 patents on the hardware and software, the company’s Hot Drape Formers and Preforming machines have been purchased by globally leading aerospace and automotive companies such as Spirit AeroSystems and McLaren Automotive.
PAC Group’s Business Development Director, Darren Leslie, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. It is a fantastic endorsement for our company to be recognised as world-class, and it is a welcome recognition of our team’s capabilities and hard work.”
PAC Group’s Technical Director, Gavin Rankin, added: “Innovation really is the lifeblood of PAC Group, and this award recognises just how innovative our carbon composite preforming technology is, which brings significant benefits to industries seeking to lightweight their structures to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”
The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay O’Boyle, paid tribute to “the people who are the heart of, and make up, PAC Group”.
She added: “This award is about your joint success, your belief in the spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship, and your contribution to creating a more stable, sustainable, and prosperous economy for Northern Ireland.”
“PAC Group is a Belfast company and a Northern Ireland success story. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is indeed a milestone, but it is also a signpost to future success and even greater achievement.”
For more information on PAC Group, go to pacgroup.co.uk