cully & sully

Cully & Sully's Recipe for Success Unveiled

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Updated on March 20, 2024

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In the culinary world, Cully & Sully’s meteoric rise to fame is nothing short of a modern-day business fairy tale. This Irish duo, starting from a small-town kitchen, has managed to catapult their brand into international recognition, all within a span of just over a decade.

They’ve navigated market transitions, ingredient shortages, and cultural variances with a deftness that’s rare in the fast-paced food industry. But what’s their secret sauce? It’s not just about creating scrumptious soups; there’s a strategic recipe behind their success.

As we unpack their journey, we’ll uncover valuable lessons for any entrepreneur striving to turn their humble beginnings into global eminence.

The Founding of Cully & Sully


While many startups struggle to find their footing, Cully & Sully, initially known as Colleen Sully, hit the ground running when it was established in 2004 by Colin O’Sullivan and Colin Allen, rapidly evolving from a small office in East Cork to being recognized as a top soup brand in Ireland.

The founders’ journey wasn’t without early challenges, including manufacturing issues and ingredient shortages. They grappled with transitioning pie manufacturing back to Ireland in 2008, a move driven by their commitment to authenticity. Adjusting recipes due to ingredient shortages tested their ingenuity and resolve. However, they maintained a steadfast commitment to quality, using fresh vegetables, butter, and olive oil.

Despite these hurdles, Cully & Sully’s founders demonstrated a knack for overcoming adversity, setting the stage for future triumphs.

Journey to Becoming a Top Soup Brand

cully & sully

Cully & Sully’s ascent to the top of the soup market is a testament to their commitment to quality and innovative product development. Their recipe for success lies in clever marketing strategies, which strike a perfect balance between underlining the brand’s authentic Irish roots and showcasing the superior quality of their products.

Expansion Into International Markets

Venturing beyond Ireland’s shores, the brand embarked on an ambitious international expansion in the mid-2000s, establishing a significant presence in over 3,000 stores across the UK, Belgium, and Paris.

This wasn’t a random shot in the dark. Cully & Sully’s success lies in their methodical approach to market research, understanding the nuances of each new market before making their move. They studied consumer behavior, preferences, and the competitive landscape, tailoring their strategies accordingly.

Equally crucial were their distribution channels. The brand strategically partnered with local retailers and supermarkets, ensuring their product was easily accessible to consumers. This careful blend of market research and targeted distribution facilitated their seamless expansion into international markets, solidifying Cully & Sully’s position as a global player.

Overcoming Manufacturing Challenges

Despite their impressive global expansion, Cully & Sully faced significant obstacles in the realm of manufacturing that they had to overcome to ensure the continued success and authenticity of their product line.

Production challenges, such as the relocation of their pie manufacturing back to Ireland, required a comprehensive reevaluation of their supply chain. The duo had to balance the cost implications of this transition with maintaining the high-quality standards they had set.

Ingredient shortages further complicated the production process, forcing them to be ever-adaptive in their approach. Even amidst these challenges, Cully & Sully’s dedication shone through.

Commitment to Quality in Product Development

cully & sully

In the face of production hurdles, maintaining an unwavering commitment to product quality has been a key part of Cully & Sully’s recipe for success. Quality assurance isn’t simply a buzzword for them, it’s an ingrained part of their product development process.

They’ve put in place stringent checks to ensure that only top-notch ingredients make it into their products. Ingredient sourcing, in particular, is a well-orchestrated process, involving careful selection of suppliers who meet their high standards.

This commitment to quality extends beyond their ingredients, to also encompass their manufacturing processes. Despite the challenges, Cully & Sully’s steadfast dedication to delivering superior quality products has been instrumental in their success, underlining the importance of quality in product development.

Adapting to Ingredient Shortages

Navigating the choppy waters of ingredient shortages has proven a significant test for Cully & Sully, pushing them to adapt and innovate in their product development process.

They’ve skillfully navigated supply chain disruptions, implementing recipe adjustments to maintain product consistency without compromising taste or quality. These alterations weren’t mere stopgaps; they’ve become important learning curves, forcing the company to reconsider their dependence on certain ingredients.

They’ve shown remarkable flexibility, turning supply chain obstacles into opportunities for improvement. This adaptability has allowed them to ensure the continued production of their flagship soups, even amidst unpredictable market conditions.

Their experience serves as a testament to the importance of resourcefulness and creativity in the face of ingredient shortages.

Use of High-Quality Ingredients

cully & sully

While the company’s adaptability in response to ingredient shortages is commendable, their commitment to using high-quality components in their recipes is equally critical to their success. Cully & Sully’s insistence on fresh vegetables, butter, and olive oil underscores a profound respect for natural, premium ingredients.

Their robust ethical sourcing practices not only enhance the flavor profile of their products but also safeguard the wellness of their consumers. Additionally, these practices contribute to sustainability initiatives, as they often involve partnerships with local farmers and suppliers, reducing the carbon footprint associated with ingredient transportation.

Thus, Cully & Sully’s dedication to high-quality ingredients, ethical sourcing, and sustainability, demonstrates a business model that isn’t just profitable, but also socially responsible.

Future Plans for Product Expansion

Looking ahead, Cully & Sully’s future plans reveal an ambitious agenda for product expansion, while remaining committed to their high-quality standards. They’re not just resting on their laurels.

The team is actively exploring new flavors that cater to evolving consumer tastes and reflect market trends. This drive to innovate is balanced by a deep respect for their Irish culinary heritage, ensuring that each new product stays true to their brand’s ethos.

Moreover, their strategic eye is firmly set on future market expansions. By seamlessly blending their established reputation for quality with an appetite for innovation, Cully & Sully is gearing up to deliver exciting products that satisfy both their loyal customers and a new generation of discerning consumers.

Their future certainly looks tasty.

Juggling Authenticity and Cost Efficiency


Balancing authenticity with cost efficiency presents a complex challenge for Cully & Sully. They strive to uphold their commitment to high-quality ingredients and Irish culinary traditions while navigating the financial implications of their choices. They’ve achieved a delicate equilibrium by balancing innovation and cost effectiveness. Their approach embodies a pragmatic blend of traditional Irish cooking methods and modern manufacturing efficiencies.

Breaking Into New Markets

How did Cully & Sully manage to break into new markets, expanding beyond their home turf in Ireland?

Their strategy was two-fold: market penetration and global expansion. They first strengthened their position in Ireland, gaining a significant market share. This success became the springboard for their expansion to the UK and beyond.

They meticulously navigated the complexities of each new market, understanding cultural differences, consumer preferences, and retail landscapes. Their adept maneuvering around these challenges allowed them to establish a considerable presence in over 3,000 stores globally.

Even as they faced manufacturing hurdles and ingredient shortages, they maintained a steadfast commitment to quality. Cully & Sully’s market penetration and global expansion strategies are a testament to their tenacity and adaptability in the face of challenges.

Building Brand Identity

While Cully & Sully’s expansion into new markets showcases their strategic adaptability, their ability to establish a distinct brand identity plays an equally crucial role in their success story. They’ve skillfully positioned their brand to resonate with customers who value quality and authenticity.

Building relationships with both retailers and consumers has been pivotal in this process. By aligning their brand values with the sourcing of local, high-quality ingredients, they’ve fostered a sense of trust and loyalty. This key brand positioning strategy hasn’t only differentiated them from competitors but also solidified their reputation as a premium soup brand.

It’s evident that Cully & Sully’s commitment to maintaining this strong brand identity continues to drive their success.

Strategies for Retail Acceptance

Navigating the retail landscape, Cully & Sully have developed effective strategies to gain acceptance and shelf space in highly competitive markets. They’ve focused on building relationships with retailers, understanding that trust and mutual benefit are key in these partnerships. Their retail strategies are marked by persistence and adaptability, adjusting to market demands while maintaining their premium quality standards.

These relationships have allowed them to secure a presence in over 3,000 stores worldwide. In addition, they’ve adeptly managed the balancing act of offering competitive margins for retailers, while sustaining their commitment to high-quality, authentic Irish ingredients. Their success lies in their ability to merge these strategies and relationships, creating a reliable, desirable brand that retailers are eager to stock.

Maintaining Authenticity in an Evolving Market

In an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving market, what steps has Cully & Sully taken to maintain their brand’s authenticity? They’ve strategically embraced authenticity preservation, staying true to their roots despite market trends.

They’ve kept brand integrity at the core, resisting the temptation to compromise on the quality of ingredients or manufacturing processes. Even as consumer preferences evolve, Cully & Sully has managed to retain its unique identity, by offering products that marry tradition and innovation.

The brand has also leveraged storytelling, effectively communicating their values and origin story to consumers, to create a deeper connection. Thus, through a careful balance of honoring tradition while acknowledging change, Cully & Sully has maintained its authenticity in an ever-changing market.

Sustainability and Growth Strategies

Building on their authenticity, Cully & Sully’s commitment to sustainability and strategic growth forms an integral part of their business ethos. They’ve embraced sustainable sourcing, ensuring they use high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. This not only reduces environmental impact but also bolsters the regional economy.

They’re also strategically expanding their distribution networks, aiming for a wider reach while maintaining their brand’s integrity. However, they’re mindful not to dilute their brand values in the process. Their growth strategy is a delicate balance of expansion and preservation, demonstrating their commitment to both the environment and their customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Were the Initial Challenges Faced by Cully & Sully During Its Establishment in 2004?

When Cully & Sully first started in 2004, they faced significant challenges. Finding unique recipes that resonated with consumers was tough. They also grappled with establishing a viable business model that’d ensure sustainable growth.

Manufacturing issues, including pie production, added to their troubles. Despite these hurdles, they’ve managed to carve out a successful niche for themselves, demonstrating the power of persistence and a commitment to quality.

Can You Share Some Insights on the Decision-Making Process Behind Transitioning Pie Manufacturing Back to Ireland in 2008?

Cully & Sully’s decision to transition pie manufacturing back to Ireland in 2008 rested on key factors. They balanced manufacturing costs with maintaining authenticity.

Managing a local supply chain also played a crucial role. They believed investing in Irish production would strengthen the brand’s identity, despite higher costs.

There’s a clear priority for authenticity and local sourcing, even when it’s financially challenging.

How Does Cully & Sully Ensure the Consistent Quality of Its Soups Despite Ingredient Shortages?

Despite ingredient shortages, Cully & Sully maintains soup quality through effective supply chain management and quality assurance techniques. They’ve established strong relationships with local suppliers, ensuring consistent access to high-quality ingredients.

They’re also flexible, adeptly adjusting their recipes without compromising taste or quality. Rigorous testing ensures every batch meets their high standards. It’s a challenging balance, but Cully & Sully’s commitment to quality never wavers.

What Marketing Strategies Did Cully & Sully Utilize to Break Into New Markets and Establish a Strong Brand Identity?

Cully & Sully utilized smart brand development techniques and market segmentation strategies to establish their identity. They’ve focused on telling their authentic Irish story, highlighting their commitment to quality ingredients.

Breaking into new markets, they’ve built strong relationships with retailers, utilizing their unique brand values. Overcoming skepticism, they’ve combined persistence with a keen understanding of each market’s cultural nuances.

Their success proves the power of a strong, authentic brand narrative.

How Does Cully & Sully Plan to Achieve Its Future Product Expansion Goals While Maintaining Its Commitment to Quality and Authenticity?

Cully & Sully’s plan to expand product lines hinges on a twofold approach: sustainable sourcing and an innovation strategy. They’re committed to using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, maintaining authenticity in their recipes.

Simultaneously, they’re exploring innovative ways to introduce new products that align with their brand values. Despite the challenges, they’re determined to uphold their quality standards while broadening their market reach.


Cully & Sully’s journey to success is a testament to their commitment to quality, authenticity, and sustainable growth. Despite challenges in manufacturing and market penetration, they’ve managed to maintain a dominant presence in the soup industry.

Their strategic approach to product development, brand identity, and retail acceptance offers valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs. They’re a shining example of how perseverance, strategic growth, and ethical sourcing can lead to remarkable success in a competitive market.

Video Transcript

Speaker 2 (00:06)
So welcome to the Food and Drink Summit. Today we’re with Colm O’Sullivan, Director of Colm O’Sulley, a beautiful food company in the lovely County of Cork. How are you doing Colm?

Speaker 1 (00:16)
Very well, thank you very much. Very well. I love you to speak with you.

Speaker 2 (00:19)
Andy, it’s lovely for you to join us and we’re delighted to have you. So Colm, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Speaker 1 (00:25)
So we started Colm and Sully in 2004. I started from my business partner, Colm Allen. So he was Colm Allen and I’m Colm O’Sullivan. There are too many Cs and As and Vows and so on. So he was always called Colm by his family and I was always called Sully by my friends. So we were starting up our business. He comes from Ballymilow House in East Cork. So his granny would be Myrtle Allen and his aunt would be Dorina.

Speaker 2 (00:50)
Very nice. Yes, indeed.

Speaker 1 (00:52)
So we had a little office in the old grain store there, and people were saying, how are Cully and Sully or Sully and Cully or whatever getting on. So we said, look, will we call the business now? Everyone told us after we decided to call the business Cully and Sully, that we were daft, that the name was childish and whimsical and that it would never work. But we couldn’t think of anything better. The only other names we I think of were names like Eleanor’s Foods or the Granary Food Store, which my brother’s business is called. But none of them ever really… They didn’t make us smile. And then one day we decided to… Well, we did it a few times. But one day in particular, we We set up a little a stall in Merchand’s Tea in Cork, which is in between a super value and an M&S. And we just wrote all the different names that we have on a piece of paper on a board, and we asked people what they thought. And Cully and Sully made people stop and think. They go, Cully and Sully? That sounds a bit daft. They smile.

Speaker 1 (01:50)
And you could see it in their eyes. You could see a reaction. And that kept going. And that’s how Cully and Soli, that’s how the name I started. But my background, I grew up in Cork, and I studied Food business in University College Cork, which is a Food Science degree. I then went to work for Musgrave Group. I went in there on the graduate programme. So Most great people in Supervalues, Centra, the Cash & Carries. And I spent four years there with them and then left to set up Culling & Culling in ’04.

Speaker 2 (02:24)
Brilliant. And so how did the start of the company actually come about? Had you been in Any discussions with Colin? How did it happen?

Speaker 1 (02:33)
So I always wanted to set up a business. Ever since I was a child, I wanted a business. When my friends wanted to be a pop star, I still want to be a pop star. But some friends wanted to be sports stars, whatever else. I wanted to be a businessman. I didn’t know what a businessman was. My dad was a dentist and my mum did have a business, but that started later on in life when we left home to go to school. So I was always looking at different ideas. And when I was in Musgrave group, Musgrave And at that time, I was there, I think, from 1999 to 2003. And there’s a lot of stuff happening within the company. It was very entrepreneurial. And I kept looking at different ideas. And I was living by myself. I was living in Castle Nock in Dublin. I was working in the Cash & Carry in Baddie Mon. And coming home by yourself every evening to cook. And there’s not much joy in that. And there was a spa shop close to us. And spa had a very limited selection of stuff. There wasn’t an M&S close to And I was used to…

Speaker 1 (03:31)
My mum would have cooked for us and so on, and she loved food. So I was like, Surely by God, we can get something decent in a local spa. And that was really the genesis of the idea. I was like, Can we supply independent stores with high-quality food? So then I approached Carl, who was my great friend and comes from Badmilieu and obviously had a huge pedigree in food. And we went on this path, this journey, which started really in June And I call it the roller coaster ride. We kept having meetings. Every week we have a meeting. And we might meet you. And then we’d have a good meeting with you and you’d say, well, you need to go and meet Tom and Gerry. We’d go meet Tom and Gerry, and then Gerry would say, well, you need to go You need to go and meet Paul and Dermot. And this thing just started. And it brought us down the road of a method of cooking which didn’t exist really in Ireland at the time called Souvide, which is a French method of cooking which translates into under vacuum, lead. And it brought us over to France, where we met a number of companies.

Speaker 1 (04:35)
And one of the companies there is a company called Fleury Michon. Fleury Michon is and still is an extraordinary company. And they make meals for a chef called Joëlle Robuchon. Robuchon is a three-star Michelin chef. And we’ve got one three-star Michelin. I think it’s a two-star, three-star in Dublin. But in France, a three-star Michelin chef, as it is here, but It’s a very, very serious thing. So for us to see a Joëlle Robuchon meal in Carrefour in France is extraordinary. So we approach them and we want them to come and manufacture in Ireland. And they said to us, Oh, yeah, no problem. We are interested in that. We know Ballymalou. We like the fact that you know retail. This is interesting. And then one evening, we were having dinner with the export director, a lovely man who since deceased called Jean-Claude Showny. And Jean-Claude said to me, he’s a dollyender, what is the population of Ireland? And I said, at the time, it’s three and a half million, quite proudly. And he goes, it is impossible, impossible. And what do you mean it’s impossible? We’re Ireland. We’re amazing and all this stuff. And he said, it’s too small.

Speaker 1 (05:46)
We are 60 million people. The UK is 65 million people. Germany is 60 million people. Spain is 60 million people. Four and a half million people, you can’t build a factory for that. So they ended up starting to produce for us, which is a It was a huge thing for us to get over in our heads because we wanted to produce ourselves. But actually, so we ended up starting this business and launching it in ’04, and we didn’t own anything. We didn’t own a factory. We didn’t own a distribution centre. We didn’t own any equipment. Most Grave had given me my laptop. We had borrowed cars, and we worked from home. So we ended up launching this virtual company by accident in September ’04. And then in October ’06, we launched our soups and they’ve become huge. We’re most renowned for our soups. We’ll be the biggest brand in the Republic of Ireland. We’re in with a first or second brand, depending on whether on promotion or off promotion in Tesco UK, in 3,000 Tesco UK stores. We went into co-op in the UK, about a thousand stores there a few months ago. We’re in in Belgium, we’re in a lot of retailers around Paris.

Speaker 1 (06:57)
So we sell a lot of soups, all made in in either Kilkenny or in Galway. And the business has gone very, very well.

Speaker 2 (07:06)
So you’ve taken the manufacturing back to Ireland then, have you?

Speaker 1 (07:11)
Yeah. Well, so it’s been a long story. And that’s been probably the biggest challenge of our business has been the manufacturing. So we moved the manufacturer of the pies back to Ireland in 2008 because our Achilles heel was always people saying to us, oh, And the pies are great and they taste great and they’re wonderful. But there’s always a but, but they’re made in France. So it was interesting. We decided to bring the pies back. This is after we launched our soups. Our soups were made in Ireland, always. And we decided to bring the pies back to Ireland. And we thought it was Irish made. We actually increased the size. That was one of the problems that we had with the size. They were 300 grammes. They were a little bit too small. They needed to be about 400 grammes. But the French couldn’t do a 400-gram pie. And And so we brought them back. And it was extraordinary. It made zero difference to sales. Absolutely none. Actually, it didn’t really work for us. In hindsight, we probably should have left it with the French. The French manufacturing a prepared meal, a pie is a very difficult thing to do because it’s not like manufacturing, say, for example, a jam.

Speaker 1 (08:20)
With a pie, you’re using mint, you’re using meats or chicken or whatever, you’re using starches, be it potato or rice or pasta or whatever. I’m not using pasta or pie, but we were doing other meals as well. And there’s a huge amount of technical knowledge in doing that and in giving it a shelf life. But if you manufacture a pie today, it needs to last without preservatives for 10, 12 days. But our soups were always produced in Ireland. And for a short spell, they were in the UK. But we produce all our soup now in the Republic Ireland.

Speaker 2 (09:00)
Absolutely brilliant. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that obviously healthy food is becoming increasingly important. Did that influence your choice of products?

Speaker 1 (09:10)
Yeah, I think we launched in ’04, and the landscape in ’04 was very different. I mean, even if you were cycling into M&S, who was certainly at the time had been seen as the higher end of food. This is before Tesco Finest and before Jamie Oliver did this thing with Sainsbury and so on. And even at that time, if you went into a supermarket, hydrogenated fat, preservatives, and multivires, all that stuff were normal. We were adamant that we wouldn’t use any of those things and that we would use this method of cooking, so we wouldn’t have to use them. And we were unique. We were completely unique in doing that. And we were all insistent in not doing that. And it was very much following, I suppose, the ethos of Ballymalou, which is very much about home ingredients and using good ingredients and cooking them, cooking them well. And it was extraordinary the resistance that we found to that. We had many people within the food industry just saying, Why don’t just put some preservative into it and make it last longer? We were saying, I don’t want to be food preservative. And if we’re going to be the face of the brand, you can’t…

Speaker 1 (10:12)
A brand, and we’ve been most successful. We’ve been very successful with what we’ve done, but the value of what we’ve created is in the brand. And for a brand to work, you have to be true to it. And the brand is Cully & Sully, which is the two of us. So we need to be able to talk and stand over everything that we do. So what does healthy food mean? It means many different things. But to us, it means good ingredients, no preservatives, no things being used in processing aids or in the process of making the soup. We use butter. We use butter and ashamedly people will say, why don’t you use a hydrogenated fat to reduce your fat content? But as we say, if you’re frying off onions, you’re making soup at home, you fry them off in butter. We use olive oil in some cases. We use all fresh vegetables. I can’t remember how many. I think we have a time we fill Cropark every year vegetables. We use a huge amount of vegetables. We follow the seasons. So at the moment, We’re not quite back into Irish veg yet, but we will soon be back into Irish veg.

Speaker 1 (11:20)
So in terms of health, yes, we would say that our soup is very healthy. And we have a huge number of doctors who are recommend our soup to people, particularly people who are sick, cancer patients who have a problem swallowing. And that’s a lovely endorsement that independent people like that who know their stuff will recommend it. And we give it to our kids and so on.

Speaker 2 (11:45)
It’s absolutely brilliant. And it actually leads me very well to my next question because I was going to ask you what are the challenges you’re facing? I suppose that’s a challenge in itself, not putting hydrogen in its fats, et cetera, and there’s a cost implication there. And then obviously Are you trying to get retailers to accept your brand when it’s a wee bit higher in price? Are you sure that’s been a challenge?

Speaker 1 (12:06)
Yeah, that has been a challenge over the years. And even things like, say, not last summer, the summer before last, we had the big drought. So the price of ingredients went bananas and up through the roof and price of butter went up through the roof and everything. It was extraordinary. I think, carrots and onions nearly doubled in price. And we’re saying to the retailer, we need to pass on a price increase. And they’re saying, no. In fairness, I understand it from their perspective because they got to keep their prices down for their consumers. But at the same time, you’re the one in the middle getting squeezed. There is a fine balance between how all of that works, but you got to stick to your guns. I think you could damage the brand. If you damage the brand, it’s like a relationship. If you and I are friends and you think I’m something and I’m not, well, then you’re not going to buy me again. So it is a fight. You’ve got to fight for it the whole time. One of the challenges that we faced the whole time is because we’re using fresh ingredients, a carrot now is different to a carrot in September.

Speaker 1 (13:11)
It’s different to a carrot in December. So our recipes, we’ve got to change the whole time. Peas are different throughout the year. But a person expect their pea soup or their tomato soup, whatever, to taste exactly the same. So we’re constantly altering the recipes and so on and working with our staff to do that. And that’s tricky. But we’ve got amazing teams in Kild County and in Galway, you do that.

Speaker 2 (13:34)
Brilliant. And you mentioned some of the bigger stores there. How do you actually go about getting a product, especially a new product like yourselves, into the bigger stores? You mentioned Tesco, maybe Dunne Stores, et cetera. How do you do that? I’m sure our viewers would be delighted to hear.

Speaker 1 (13:51)
Yeah, I don’t think there’s any one way. I think it depends. If you have something that they want, they will be after you very quickly. Retailers, and people give out about them and all this stuff, but me, retailers are actually incredibly responsive to things. If they see something that they think is going to sell, they’ll get on to you very quickly. So for example, with us, we launched with one retailer and we had two other retailers onto us very, very quickly. I suppose we got our profile into the newspapers here and they saw that. We got ourselves into high-end independent stores. They saw that. They saw the passion, the energy that we were putting in behind the brand, and they wanted a bit of that in their stores. So that was how that works, and we built it up. But then you say, okay, if you say to yourself, Okay, you can do that. You’re brilliant to that. Well, then we tried to go and do it in the UK, and we were years knocking on doors over there, years, and we couldn’t get in. And they were saying to us, oh, your brand won’t work.

Speaker 1 (14:49)
And there’s all some an excuse. And I always put it back to what if an English manufacturer is trying to come in through Ireland, if the Irish buyer is happy with what he has or she has, it’s going to be difficult to penetrate that. You’ve got to be different. As people say, a supermarket shelf, it’s not elastic, it’s a certain amount of space. And if, for example, so you say somebody in Belfast launches a soup, they’re going to take one of my soups away. So are they going to be given the same, the retailer the same margin that I’m giving them? Because if they’re giving less margin that I’m giving, they’ll be saying, well, I’m small, I can’t get the same margin as Cully and Thully because they’re bigger. Where the retailer is going to say, well, why I’m going to need to sell two of your seats for every one of Cully and Thully. So there’s a lot of different things there. At the same time, if the PR is big enough of the new brand, they will list you. So there’s a lot of stuff there, but you always have to see from the retailer’s perspective.

Speaker 1 (15:44)
And the retailer, you’re in larger organisations. There can be hundreds of buyers in some of these retailers, and they’re incentivized. They have targets and bonuses and all that stuff. And you got to try and understand from their perspective What’s going to make them want you in there. And that’s really it. And I say that with all my knowledge, and yet there’s still plenty of retailers in the UK that we’re still not in, we’re trying to get to. So there’s also an element of time. I think one of the things to do, that’s a very important thing to do, is if a retailer says no, you say, no problem. Thank you very much. And send them a Valentine’s Day present, send them a Christmas present. Not like a big, expensive, but a box of chocolates or make them something. They’re making something nice and stay on their radar. The reality is that buyer will probably move to another section. They tend to move around quite a bit, but try and build that relationship. But at the same time, you have to be true to yourself. Do you have something unique? People think that, Oh, I’ve got the best brown bread ever.

Speaker 1 (16:48)
Really? Is it really the best brown bread ever? Am I really going to change to that brown bread? So there are all the questions you got to be honest with yourself about.

Speaker 2 (16:57)
My takeaway from this is that your person Naughty will actually get you into those. I’ll tell you. And your persistence.

Speaker 1 (17:06)
Sometimes it might keep me out of them.

Speaker 2 (17:09)
I doubt that very much, Colm. Colm, are trade events important for a business like yourselves? Or would that not be something you’d be involved in?

Speaker 1 (17:21)
I think that trade events are important, but I wouldn’t rate them as highly as being involved in. I think that trade events are important, but I wouldn’t rate them as highly as being involved in. In key stores. So again, I could just say, for example, I just talk about Ireland. I remember somebody saying to me once, it was one of the guys in Superquin, and he said, If you can penetrate with Superquin Black Rock, Superquin in Sutton, which is the original Super Quin, Tesco Marion, Duns Cornelius, of course, SuperValue in Churchtown, and Super value in James Grange. If you get those stores working, the rest will follow. So there’s this triangular effect. And so, for example, and again, there’ll be other stores out there that people watch, but they’re in the Irish Times magazine or they’re in the UK Good Housekeeping magazine or whatever. So again, if you want England to work, there are stores you got to make work in London. All the buyers go into Harrods and they go into Fortnum and Mason. They want to see what’s in there. A lot of stuff in there is far too expensive for it to work in a normal retailer.

Speaker 1 (18:37)
But there are the places you need to be seen and you need to create this thing for the buyer that I want that. Could that work in my store?

Speaker 2 (18:47)
It’s more about going to the flagship stores rather than the trade event, you’re right?

Speaker 1 (18:54)
I think so. I think trade events, I don’t know. My experience We went to trade events, we went to a lot of them. You do meet buyers there, but they’re meeting so many people. It can be a little bit of a false environment. They might feel under pressure from you. I’m definitely not saying they’re a bad thing. I’m not saying that for a second. But I would say things like, say, for example, I have five grand to spend. And I have a choice of spending five grand on going to an electric picnic, or five grand on going to the biggest trade fair in Ireland. I go to an electric picnic because I can be sure The buyers will be there, or else will be colleagues of the buyers there, or family of the buyers there. And if I can feed them and entertain them, that’s going to get back to the buyer.

Speaker 2 (19:39)
That’s brilliant. That’s actually brilliant advice. Honestly, really good. Thank you. In terms of the food industry in Ireland, is it grown? What’s happening?

Speaker 1 (19:46)
I think there’s a huge amount of change. There’s never been so much change, not just now, but now a couple of years, driven largely by the by the discounters. They have a huge market share down here now. We just put all the other retailers under pressure. I think that it’s made… Not having Superquin down here for us is a huge loss. They were a very small part of the Irish retail scene. They were only about 8 % of the market. But they were where small companies started. And Fergal Quinn was an amazing advocate of small businesses. Small businesses, food businesses have to start somewhere. The reality is you start in a couple of stores and you get it going. I think making that thing happen now is quite difficult. So against that landscape, for me, anybody starting a food business now really needs to be starting it in a way that’s going to look into export very, very, very quickly. So for example, I look at a company like Strong Roots, Sam Denning in the business. Frozen, started in Ireland really well, but very quickly got the island of Ireland very successfully as an America now and so on.

Speaker 1 (21:04)
So that’s the route to market. I think you have to go now. Again, you look at the scale. So if you take Tesco’s Republic of Ireland, and I remember clearly the day that we got into Tesco’s ROI, it was around 2009, I think it was. It was quite a bit after we launched our business. And we were delighted. But Tesco’s Republic of Ireland is 120 stores. We’re in 3,000 Tesco’s in the UK. The scale And it’s nearly the same amount of work to supply Tesco’s UK in terms of paperwork and whatever else is as a Tesco ROI. But in terms of customer demand is changing hugely. The millennials are driving huge change in terms of health, in terms of snacking, in terms of meat free. Meat free is an area that’s growing hugely and there’s huge appetite from the supermarket buyers for good meat free products. That’s a huge area that will continue to grow. And there are some good products in there, but we definitely haven’t seen the brilliant products that are going to be there in years to come. I think making it easy for people to eat themselves and feed their families healthy is an area which is going to grow, definitely.

Speaker 2 (22:22)
It’s definitely becoming more important, and it’s only going one way, and it’s an upward trajectory. In terms of, and you’ve Just partially, anyway. In terms of using local producers and provenance, do you find that very important in your business?

Speaker 1 (22:37)
I think, again, it depends on your brand. So if you’re a brand that purports to be about provenance and so on, that’s a very important thing. Brands are very important to millennials. They want to get behind them. They want to understand them. But you got to be true to your brand. So if your brand is about provenance and stuff, well, then you better be on it because they’re going to know. They’re going to be able to Google it and find the answer and so on. And if you’re If you’re not true to what you are, to what you say, well, then your brand is gone. But for me, provenance is vital. It’s what you’re putting into your body. It’s what you’re putting into your children’s bodies. I guess, and again, when we started our business, we did lots of intro demonstrations. You got to remember a lot of people out there, the majority of people are shopping on a budget, and they got to feed, in some places, a large family or whatever, and they haven’t got much money. And unfortunately, a lot of cases, food is fuel, and that’s difficult. But I think for a new business trying to start in that market is very difficult.

Speaker 1 (23:38)
That’s about low cost and so on. To me, the opportunities, particularly in health, in meat production and so on, is going to be in really good quality products with provenance. And I tell a story that makes people feel good about themselves.

Speaker 2 (23:57)
Yeah. On that note, are you expanding In your range?

Speaker 1 (24:01)
Yeah, we’re constantly trying to look at different things. For example, two years ago, we launched our broths. Our broths, I’m not trying to bang on about them, but they’re an amazing product. The Bones, the Creeley Group, who are an amazing company in Ireland, they roast all the bones for 24 hours. It’s extraordinary. And you can have whatever bone you want, from whatever animal, whatever age. And then we make the broths from that base. So they’re a proper bone broth. But again, the uptake in them has been very slow. They’re there and they’re nice and they’re a good product. But if you take our soup, for example, we sell a soup every 2.3 seconds. It’s a lot That’s unbelievable. Yeah. Every 2.3 seconds, all day, all year, there’s a soup being sold somewhere. So getting a new product to reach that level is always very hard, but you got to keep trying. And MPD is really important. We’re trying to do a lot more stuff with seasonal things. So we do have a seasonal soup, and we’re trying to make that more local now as well, maybe with some beet root, and we’re doing a seasonal squash soup.

Speaker 1 (25:14)
We’re looking at the idea of risotto, but again, risotto is a relatively small market. But a risotto as a meal is fantastic. It can be vegetarian, it can be delicious, it can be healthy, and it can be quick. But again, people have a thing about risotto, but we’re going to try. So we’re the whole time looking at things. But again, you have to try and achieve that rate of sale with the supermarket. So it’s not easy, but we’re constantly trying.

Speaker 2 (25:45)
Brilliant. And have you had any help from government agencies, particularly when you’re going to Britain or you’re expanding? What help have you had?

Speaker 1 (25:55)
Board B are an amazing organisation for us, and they’ve been hugely helpful in France and in the UK. They have extraordinary teams. I always said that they’re the best of all the organisations. The interns aren’t very good as well. We haven’t had as many dealings with them, but certainly Board Bia, if you put your hand up and you ask for something, they will deliver it. They really are very good. But really, at our stage in life, we’ll probably go off and get the information ourselves. You I know you’re on the market and you can get that information yourself most of the time. But certainly, Boardbeia are excellent.

Speaker 2 (26:38)
Brilliant. In terms of where people can get your products, Colm, where are they available? You’ve mentioned some of them. This is your chance to tell me where we can get them.

Speaker 1 (26:49)
Tesco and I, Tesco Northern Ireland have them. Duns, Northern Ireland have them. Super value. I know some super values. I haven’t been up now for a couple of months, but some super values have them, some don’t. But some supervise, some don’t, but Tesco, they’re probably your best bet. Unfortunately, we’re not in Sainsbury’s and we’re not in Liddleraldies.

Speaker 2 (27:09)
Just yet?

Speaker 1 (27:11)
Just yet.

Speaker 2 (27:13)
And can you buy them on your website As well?

Speaker 1 (27:16)
No, that’s slightly… I’m not sure. I wouldn’t say Achilles heel, but our difficulty is we’ve got to maintain the chill chain. So we can’t post them to you chilled. We’d love to be able to post them to you chilled, but unfortunately, we can’t do that. We’d love to have an online business. Online is what it’s all about, particularly at the moment. But no, we can’t. It doesn’t work. Obviously, you can buy them online through tesco. Ie or whatever, or tesco, tesco. Co. Uk. And we do sell a lot to Tesco. I think about 8 % of our sales in Tesco UK go through their online portal. But we can’t send it in direct from our- Maybe that’s just yet.

Speaker 2 (28:00)
That could be coming.

Speaker 1 (28:02)
Who knows? We have seen packaging inventions and stuff, but nothing yet. But you never know. Hopefully, it’s un saved.

Speaker 2 (28:08)
Okay, Colm. Brilliant. Would you like to give our viewers any hints or tips or common mistakes that you’ve made? Or anything at all that will help?

Speaker 1 (28:17)
Okay, so we’ve made plenty of mistakes. I suppose there’s so much stuff to say. I think from what I’ve said already, I would say one of the most important things is talking to people. You got to keep talking to people. People in the start in their business love to get market research reports and the market says this and whatever else says, go out and chat to people in the stores. They’re only two to life to talk to you. And have the meetings and you have a business plan, you’re updating the whole time. That’s alive. It’s a living, breathing document. That’s one thing. Second thing I would say is for me, brand is fantastic. It differentiates you from everybody else. It’s who you are. But I think that a certain person, there’s a certain skill that we didn’t have, and I didn’t even know what a brand was. And we fell into it and we became it or something. I don’t know how it all just happened in a way. We’ve learned a huge amount about branding, and it’s a fascinating topic, and it’s something that it’s hard to teach it. You really have to experience it.

Speaker 1 (29:26)
But I think the idea of building a brand and what we are, we don’t own really anything physical. You mean we are a brand? So building that brand and staying true to that brand is very important. I think the other thing is obviously staying true to your product. A lot of people start food businesses and they got a great idea and they’re passionate and so on. And they start delivering to 10 shops or 20 shops, and then they got a scale because you’re not going to make any money delivering to 20 shops or even 50 shops. You got a scale. You’ve got a scale. And the thing is keeping your product authenticity when you scale from 50 shops to a thousand shops. And that’s the key. And so many businesses fall at that. And if your product can’t scale, and you got to be true to yourself, it can’t scale exactly at the same quality. And I really do mean that it has to be exactly the same thing, but then it isn’t going to work. Do you know what I mean? And the retailer, when you sit with the retailer, they’ll know that. They’ll know if something can scale or not.

Speaker 1 (30:28)
That’s a very important thing. I think the other thing as well is you got to enjoy and passion. People buy from people. And if you’re passionate and you love what you do, they’re going to be more in some dealing with you. So be passionate and be polite and all that stuff. And it’s a long road. There are plenty of knocks in the face whenever we got plenty of them. We just get yourself up and dust yourself down and drive on.

Speaker 2 (30:50)
I think you most definitely have that personality and tenacity. It’s showing through. Lastly, If you will, if you’ll indulge me, what’s the future for Caleigh and Sully?

Speaker 1 (31:06)
The future for us, really for us, what we would love to do… Ireland and England are the two big soup markets, really for a fresh soup. There’s a little bit in France, you were there, a little bit in Germany, and so on. But really, it’s the Ireland and the UK. So really for us, we’re in everywhere in Ireland, every Sydney corner store, every filling station. You won’t find a store. I’m asking that in an arrogant way. But we’re in pretty much every store here. We’d love to do the exact same thing in the UK. We want to get into the same three. We want to get into Waitrose. We want to get into the rest of the co-ops. We believe our soup is very different. It’s a smooth soup, it’s not a chunky soup. It’s in a container that you can eat out of. It’s very much a soup on the go. It’s a huge authenticity in terms of ingredients, in terms of manufacturing time in making our soup. It’s It’s a long, long time because we’re sorting off the veg, we reduce down the soup, and it’s made the same way you make it at home.

Speaker 1 (32:08)
So we really want to get into all the rest of the stores. That’s really what we love to do. Yes, there’s a lot of growth left there still.

Speaker 2 (32:15)
Colm, that was absolutely brilliant. And we wish you all the best with Colm and Sully in the future. It was a pleasure having your company today.

Speaker 1 (32:25)
And a pleasure to speak with you, too. And thank you very much. I really enjoyed that.

Speaker 2 (32:28)
I did, too. Thanks very much, Colm.

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