‘The reality is that no one knows what is going to happen’
Brexit strategy: Bakery company Foods of Athenry does a quarter of its business in the UK
Justina Juszczak of Polish beverage maker Victoria Cymes. Over 3,000 food industry professionals attended the National Food and Drink Conference at Citywest in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Loretto Kiernan is sales manager at Foods of Athenry, a 13-year-old Galway bakery business with a keen eye on wholesomeness.
Around 25 per cent of its business is done in the UK and its products are sold in health food shops as well as the Waitrose grocery chain.
“All of our UK business was already in place in the UK before the Brexit referendum and I think when the result became known our hearts did sink. There was that fear because nobody knew then what was going to happen, and I don’t think anybody knows now what is going to happen either,” said Kiernan.
“All we can do is try and hold onto the business that we have and maybe build on it. We do have a good reputation in the UK and we have our name and I think we will hopefully be able to capitalise on that.”
She said a weak sterling and fears over no deal being reached meant that future pricing was uncertain, although she expressed the hope that the company would be able to manage whatever happened next.
“I don’t know if you can talk about us having a Brexit strategy because I don’t think you can really have a strategy when you don’t know what is going to happen. The reality is that no one knows what is going to happen.”
She said that because the company made and dispatched all its products from its base in Athenry, it had “an adaptability that maybe other companies don’t have and we can respond to things with very short notice. We are also looking to expand exports to mainland Europe and to Scandinavia and the United States. I think there is plenty of business out there but it takes work and it takes time to find it”.