Glenhaven is a family business that is synonymous with quality chicken products. Maev Martin talks to co-owners and brother and sister team Barry and Emma Cahill about overseeing the biggest re-brand in the company’s history and creating its first above the line advertising campaign.
Emma and Barry’s parents set up Glenhaven shortly after they moved to Wicklow 37 years ago, trading initially out of a small factory in Avoca.
“My dad had been in the food business since he was 14 years old,” says Barry.
“In 1986, he established Glenhaven, a frozen food business in Avoca, and quickly secured some strong accounts in the foodservice market, including Supermac’s, as well as numerous Irish and UK blue-chip retailers. All of these have been a bedrock for Glenhaven over the last 30 years.”
Glenhaven’s next big move happened 25 years ago when they invested €12 million in a state-of-the-art EU export-approved factory in Arklow, Co Wicklow.
In 2019, Glenhaven invested €20 million in an additional fully cooked facility, which includes some of the world’s most advanced ovens, making it ideal for foodservice and retail products.
“Glenhaven now has four high-speed production lines catering for both carton and bagged products, and each can deliver 1.5 tonnes per hour,” says Barry.
“Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland are great champions for the Irish food industry and we really appreciate the support and assistance that both organisations provided as we upgraded our equipment and expanded our operations down through the decades.”
When it comes to the split between foodservice and retail, Barry says that it is currently about 50/50.
“Glenhaven has replaced significant volumes of chicken products coming from China and Thailand,” he says.
“The investment in the new facility has really helped us to grow and compete well in that space.
"We are proud to be providing 180 jobs in Wicklow, as well as supporting other local service providers.”
The poultry processing business has been hit on many fronts, from labour availability to Covid-19 and, more recently, the war in Ukraine.
“Energy costs have been a big factor for us over the past 18 months, but we were already working hard to become a more sustainable and green company, including carrying out energy audits with EM3, an innovative energy solutions company,” says Barry. “And of course, all our packaging is fully recyclable.”
New Product Development
Between chicken dippers and goujons, chicken fillets, and ‘fakeaways’ and snacks, Glenhaven supplies a very extensive range of chicken products to the Irish and UK markets.
“Breaded chicken goujons are still our biggest selling product, but our fastest growing product is our Crispy Shredded Chicken and Chinese Style Battered Chicken Balls, as they are great for quick and easy fakeaways,” says Emma.
“We also introduced a very successful and innovative shredded Irish beef product to the UK and Irish retail markets last year. Glenhaven’s NPD and sales teams are continuously developing new and innovative protein and plant-based products to anticipate ever-changing consumer trends.”
Emma describes their cheese bites as Glenhaven’s “most exciting” new product.
On 4 January, Glenhaven launched their first cheese bite product into the international Quick Service Restaurant sector, and they are currently working on launching five new cheese products into the UK and Ireland this year.
Glenhaven is ranked number three among the top five brands in the Frozen Prepared Poultry Products category of the Checkout Top 100 Brands 2022 publication, which is produced in association with NielsenIQ.
They are also the only one of the top three brands listed in the category that is produced in Ireland. This is something that Barry and Emma are extremely proud of.
Glenhaven competes head-to-head with international brand Birds Eye and has managed to maintain a strong following over the past four decades.
“Irish consumers love to support local brands that they can trust,” says Emma. “The Irish consumer has loyalty to Irish family brands that deliver high quality products.
"The Bord Bia Brand Health Check Survey for 2022 shows that 9% of grocery retail customers purchase Glenhaven regularly, whereas 36% of customers purchase the market leader regularly, so we believe there is huge growth potential for our brand in the Irish market.”
Rebrand And ATL Ad Campaign
Glenhaven invested heavily in a rebrand and new packaging across its SKU portfolio last year.
“The re-branding in 2022 was the most significant piece of branding in the history of the company,” says Barry.
“Bord Bia and Love Irish Food helped us to do a major review of what the brand means and how we could better convey that to shoppers.”
In March, that re-brand will be unveiled to an even wider audience as Glenhaven’s first above the line advertising campaign kicks off with TV advertising. “The TV ad is inspired by our re-brand and, in particular, our new packaging,” he says.
“The concept for the advertising campaign was created and written by Emma, who, up until recently, worked as an advertising creative in a leading London agency.
"True Story, our design partner, really captured the essence of our brand and encouraged us to talk directly to our consumer through our Cahill Family story, which is featured on back of pack.
"We will be bringing that message from our packaging to life via the new TV ad. The Company of Huskies is our advertising agency, and the production house is Windmill Lane.”
Glenhaven will also be running a series of in-store promotions to coincide with the launch of their TV advertising campaign.
“We hope that our re-brand and our advertising highlights all the reasons why consumers can believe in the Glenhaven brand,” says Barry.
“The ad goes back in time to our father and mother and shows how they, and myself and Emma, have grown with the business.
"I talk to my father several times a day about how we can continue to grow Glenhaven and the Glenhaven brand.
"Emma and I returned to Ireland with our spouses, and in Emma’s case, her children, a few years ago. As mentioned, Emma was working as an advertising copywriter in London, while I had been working for Google for 12 years in the US.
“While I enjoyed working for such a big technology company, there wasn’t the same level of personal investment in the work that you find from the team in a family business, where there is an extra level of dedication and genuine care about the outcome of products.
"When you are raised in a family business it is pretty much all you talk about. It is part of your DNA. We hope to build on what our parents have created by working more on developing the brand and seeking to innovate, which has always been a cornerstone of the business.”
Glenhaven has developed a strong relationship with the Irish consumer as a result of its longevity and the quality of its products.
“Irish consumers are keen to purchase Irish products, so that has helped us to build a loyal following, and being an Irish business is a key attribute that Irish consumers can relate to,” says Barry.
“Glenhaven has been around for four decades, and we are very proud of the quality of our products and the expertise of our dedicated and long-standing team.”
The company employs 180 people across the business and the majority are from either Arklow or Avoca, including many second-generation employees.
“Our dedication to quality and continuous improvement is underscored by our head of quality, Ben Holmes, who has been with us for 26 years, Hugh McLaughlin, head of sales and NPD, who has been developing products with us for 32 years, and our most senior production manager, Lorraine Cummins, who is also with us for 32 years,” says Barry.
“I have been co-leading the business with Emma for two and a half years now, and I’m still discovering family connections down through the generations, so it is a business that is synonymous with Arklow and with Avoca.”
LOVE IRISH FOOD
Both Emma and Barry have nothing but praise for the support they have received from the Love Irish Food organisation.
“Love Irish Food were a terrific support to us during our re-brand,” says Emma.
“The organisation has been a good resource for business development and relevant industry news, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19 and Brexit, and when it comes to coping with energy costs and any legal changes that we need to be aware of.”
Emma points out that Love Irish Food made Glenhaven the Checkout Brand of the Month in October.
“This was very exciting for us,” she says. “Love Irish Food are always there for their members and we are so proud to feature them on our packaging”.
Would Emma and Barry recommend membership of Love Irish Food to other locally produced food brands?
“100% yes, and for all the reasons we outlined – what the logo does on pack, the standout it gives you, and the trust that it instils in consumers – and Love Irish Food provides great advice to businesses because they really care about their members."
© 2023 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Maev Martin. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.