It’s a cakewalk from Dromore to Dubai for Graham’s Home Bakery, as the local company recently secured a contract to supply its goods to a United Arab Emirates supermarket giant.
Christmas came early for Tim Graham who runs the business along with his father Dennis and sisters Lois and Esther, as they learned of the news on December 23.
“It’s good to get launched at the start of the year,” said Tim.
“January is a quiet time for us with people dieting and trying to save themselves from sweet treats, so this market is nice to have,” he added.
This is the second Middle Eastern deal made by the Dromore company – the first was in 2014 with Spinneys, in Dubai, which Graham’s supplies with a mini-bite range including shortbread biscuits, brownies, Viennese whirls and Swiss rolls.
“It’s nice to have been able to build on our previous UAE contract, especially as any export market helps enormously.”
He also said that Northern Ireland is building a reputation for quality and trustworthy food internationally and people will now pay a little bit more for it.
Tim believes it is company’s family ethos that has helped to market their business in the Middle East - an area known for its strong family culture.
“Each product gets a quote from different members of the family,” said Tim, “it’s the same brand that is used locally and the quotes help us communicate our family story and talk about things like the local ingredients we use.
“For instance, one of the key ingredients we use in our sponge cakes is local butter from County Antrim and we believe that’s what gives the sponge it’s great flavour.”
Graham’s bakery has come a long way since May Graham, Tim’s grandmother, baked a few buns for a church event at Dromore Gospel Hall 60 years ago.
“She made a few buns on a Sunday for a church event and had some left over,” said Tim.
“She ran a sweetie shop on Meeting Street and decided to put some of them in the shop window.
“They sold out by lunchtime so she decided to make more and they just kept selling.”
Tim says he can’t imagine what she would think of them exporting to the Middle East but said: “three of four siblings are all in the business now and I think she would be delighted to see us all working together .
“We all get on well and compliment each other in different roles and with our various skill sets.”
With the 60 year anniversary coming up, Tim says there are a few plans currently in the pipeline to celebrate that milestone.
Graham’s already supplies Tesco Northern Ireland, Supervalu and in the Republic the Henderson Group.