Draynes Farm dates back almost a century, and its heritage is evident as the farm continues to be a family business – although it aspires to grow far beyond its home in Lisburn, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. “When we started 90 years ago, in 1932, we sold milk from horse and cart churns to local homes,” opened Owen Drayne, director of Draynes Farm. “Now we deliver to hotels, hospitals, bakeries, bars, cafes, restaurants and everything in between.”
Today, the 200-acre farm sells a variety of dairy products, from fresh milk and crème fraîche to cheddar and goat cheese, butter and yogurt. Seven years ago it started producing ice cream, and the range has since grown to include 16 flavors, the latest being Cookies and Cream and Biscoff.
This expansion prompted Draynes to look for dealers beyond Northern Ireland and into the Republic of Ireland, but there were concerns about Brexit legislation and transporting frozen goods over longer distances.
“Brexit has had less of an impact on us than UK businesses because of the Northern Ireland protocol,”said Owen Dryne. “Our suppliers in the Republic of Ireland can send products to us without any customs checks or formalities. This has made people more keen to trade south of the border as there are fewer trade barriers.
In comparison, every purchase from Great Britain requires the completion of a supplementary declaration form, a task that can take time depending on the volume of product shipped. That’s why expanding to ROI made more sense for the farm.
While researching various export routes, a team member came across information about InterTradeIreland, the business development body supported by the Department of Business, Trade and Employment and the Department of Northern Ireland Economy, which aims to promote cross-border business opportunities for small businesses through advisory and funding schemes.
Following a qualification process – described as “relatively easy” by Owen Drrayne – the farm was awarded an £8,000 grant. The Northern Ireland firm has partnered with Sales Plus, which is tasked with finding potential customers, with the grant funding half of the ROI sales company’s costs. As a result, Draynes Farm got its first distributor, in Monaghan near the border crossing.
“We were already traveling as far south as Armagh, and with a distributor on board at Monaghan, it’s only 10 minutes on the road,”Dryne said. “We have met two more potential customers and hope to get their first delivery in the coming weeks.”
The funding has been “extremely helpful” in enabling Draynes Farm’s expansion towards return on investment, Owen added. “We always wanted to find a way to get a return on investment without the grant, but the grant made it easier for us,”he told us. Going forward, the plan is to connect with distributors across Ireland. “We would like to be present in all the cities of the country”,concluded Dryne.
Firms that export ‘twice as likely to grow’
Data from InterTradeIreland found that companies that export across borders outperform those that don’t, with 41% enjoying rapid to moderate expansion. This is almost double compared to non-cross-border traders (21%). According to ITI Strategy Director Martin Robinson, this is a recurring trend in his last three quarterly surveys of hundreds of businesses on the island.
According to the data, the vast majority (83%) of businesses on the island of Ireland were “in stable or growth mode”, but rising energy costs are expected to be the main challenge for all in the months to come. come.
Draynes Farm is also preparing for a harsh winter, although Drayne remains optimistic in its assessment. “Our plans for the winter are to manage the extreme increases in energy, packaging and fuel while continuing to provide excellent service and produce fantastic products,”said Owen Dryne. “We plan to produce ice cream in winter in anticipation of next spring so that when the warmer weather arrives we will have enough stock to be able to serve our customers at home and in return on investment.”
The farm produces about 25% of its energy from solar energy and has decided to increase this figure in the future.