Calling all small and medium sized food and drink businesses in Ireland: If you fancy being the next Ballygowan or Ballymaloe Foods, now’s your chance with Homegrown at Maxol, a new initiative by the convenience and forecourt retailer to support Ireland’s incredible food and drinks producers and help them grow.
Launched today, Maxol is encouraging all SMEs in the food and drinks sector to enter the programme, which will give four finalists a chance to shine, by winning prime shelf space in 72 Maxol stores, marketing support, as well as invaluable mentorship and a chance to exhibit their product to 400 convenience retailers. From the four, one outstanding product or producer will be chosen by Maxol as the inaugural Homegrown at Maxol Champion for 2023 at Maxol’s upcoming Retail Conference in April. Homegrown at Maxol is open to food and drinks products of all kinds and applications are open until March 31st HERE and entering couldn’t be easier.
Developed in partnership with Champion Green, Homegrown at Maxol is the first programme of its kind in the forecourt and convenience retail sector that can offer immediate and tangible support to local businesses across Ireland. “The aim is to give small businesses an opportunity to grow and expand by getting prime shelf space in our company-owned stores in the Republic of Ireland, supported by creative marketing materials, advertising and mentoring support,” said Maxol CEO, Brian Donaldson. “There’s a real opportunity here for small businesses to scale up however, if 72 stores is too big an initial step, there is also scope for winners to be showcased on a regional basis. We don’t want to be too restrictive, and we encourage any business in the food and drinks sector that isn’t already working with Maxol to apply today.”
The programme is part of Maxol’s strategy to support local, indigenous food and drinks producers and suppliers and in line with its commitment to expand its range of homegrown produce across its store network.
In 2021 Maxol joined Champion Green, a national movement established to boost local businesses, to demonstrate the company’s backing for SMEs. Brian Donaldson says that the Homegrown at Maxol programme is a natural progression of both the Champion Green partnership and of Maxol’s own progression in its convenience retail journey.
Evelyn Moynihan, who heads up Champion Green, said: “Homegrown at Maxol is true to our mission to champion local sustainable business, and will be the start of something great for four fledgling SMEs in the food and drink sector in 2023. Growing the local economy needs industry leaders like Maxol to get behind small businesses, and, equally, for consumers to proactively support Irish enterprise”.
Best of the best
The programme invites entries from those operating in a wide range of areas including ambient, confectionary, deli, hot, fresh, soft drinks, juices and smoothies, teas, health and fitness, milk and dairy based drinks and alcohol.
“As long as the product is made in Ireland, we’d love to see it,” says Brian Donaldson who will shortlist the best of the best along with fellow judges from Maxol and its wholesale partner, BWG, restaurant critic and wine writer, Corinna Hardgrave and Evelyn Moynihan of Champion Green.
“While the judges will review every entry, ultimately it will be our retailers that will make the final decision on the overall winner,” he explains. “In April they will meet at our annual retail conference where they will get to sample the finalists’ produce. As local people operating local stores, they understand what their customers want and are therefore best placed to decide on an overall winner. This is about trying to find the next Keogh’s Crisps or Innocent Smoothies, both of which started off as small businesses before going on to become very successful larger entities.”
Duty of care
A family-owned Irish business for more than 102 years, Maxol has expanded its offer from fuel and services, to a become a convenience retailer, offering fresh coffee, deli, bakery, as well as household products for a top up shop and fresh food and meal solutions for any time of day. “We feel we have a duty of care to help other indigenous businesses, which was central to our decision to back the Champion Green movement. We know consumers want to shop local and buy local and at Maxol we already stock a very broad range of locally produced products. But we want to give even more prominence to these in our stores through the new Homegrown at Maxol initiative and look forward to seeing and sampling the entries from companies ready to take the next step,” Brian Donaldson said.