‘Dragons’ Den’ entrepreneur aiming to be de best in de business

Brendan Cleary (left) with his De Mad Food Co brand and twin brother Vincent with his Glenisk brand

Brendan Cleary (left) with his De Mad Food Co brand and twin brother Vincent with his Glenisk brand

 

Brendan Cleary, the founder of De Mad Food Company which featured on Dragon s’ Den recently, is on the brink of packing his flavoured Irish puddings into 12 more Dunnes Stores outlets around the State.

Chatting last week Cleary, whose father Jack founded the well-known Offaly yoghurt maker Glenisk, was upbeat about the prospects for his new venture.

He said the feedback from Dunnes was that they were pleased with a five-shop pilot and now wanted to bring it into 17 stores.

“We’re in talks with Tesco Local too about nine stores and with BWG [the owner of Spar] about a 200- store roll out,” Cleary said.

Cleary has a history in creating innovative foods since his early days with Glenisk when his father sent him to Sweden in the 1980s to find out the best way to make yogurts.

The entrepreneur also hopes that he can use the wiles of Dragon Eamonn Quinn, son of Superquinn founder Fergal, to help him push out his product overseas.

Quinn stumped up €60,000 on the show to get a 40 per cent slice of the action.

Cleary’s twin brother is Vincent Cleary, the managing director of Glenisk.

The two brothers used to work together in the business until about 2007-08 when Danone, the global food giant, bought a stake in the company.

Cleary said he felt a “little bit surplus to requirements” after the investment by Danone, which greatly modernised its equipment. There were more structures, he said, so he was no longer free to experiment as much as he had been used to.

“When I left, it wasn’t in the rosiest of circumstances,” Cleary admitted, before adding that he was back being friends with his brother again.

“I’ve decided to paddle my own canoe and Glenisk is just going from strength to strength,” he said. “I’ve got fuel in the tank for something new.”

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