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WHAT A YEAR! THANK YOU 2019 AND HELLO 2020!

WHAT A YEAR! THANK YOU 2019 AND HELLO 2020!

What a year! 2019 was a year full of fantastic milestones and projects, that even as I type this blog it is hard to recall it all.

We kicked 2019 off with our rebrand from Rumour Mill PR to Rumour Mill Creative Communications. This signalled how far we had come as an agency. Not only do we have more experience working on a wide range of consumer, corporate, public sector and charity campaigns; but we now offer a wider mix of services beyond just public relations.

Whilst our bread and butter has been a thriving public relations consultancy, many say public relations doesn’t work like it used to. That’s simply not the case. Rather, the world has changed, and we are changing with it. It’s not as simple as pitching to reporters and getting quick hits anymore. Like everything else, public relations has evolved and as a result, do did we. From how reporters communicate to leveraging social channels, it has been essential that we as an agency stay ahead of the curve in this digitally obsessed world.

Digital platforms have introduced us to new ways to communicate with target audiences and channels to pursue. As a result, PR is no longer just about communicating a message with an audience. Rather, it’s about having a conversation with audiences. And we love to talk! While it may be hard to tell what the future of PR holds, at Rumour Mill Creative Communications we are positioned to ensure we can support clients’ cross-over between public relations and the digital world.

Along with our rebrand came our move to Lisburn. We relocated to a new collaborative workspace called Cubic Co Work in Lisburn, allowing us to invest more in our team, vision and services. Cubic Co Work houses several local businesses, all sharing a collective desire to push the boundaries, create and collaborate.

And whilst we are talking about creating and collaborating…what a year we have had working with some fun and innovative brands on launches, announcements, events and social media!

From launching Gander, the world’s first real-time app to help reduce food waste; introducing the amazing six-course tasting experience, Six by Nico to Belfast; announcing the arrival of Holiday Inn Express in Derry; unveiling the new American Holidays hub in Belfast City Centre to so much more; it has been an eventful year.

We have loved working with our clients and welcoming new brands onboard, such as United Wines, Carrickfergus Enterprise, City Picnic, Prime Cut Productions and Jonzara.

In 2019 we also added to our trophy collection with two wins at the annual PRCA Dare Awards and a silver win at the CIPR Pride Awards.

  • PRCA DARE AWARDS: Event, Launch or Stunt of the Year– Six by Nico
  • PRCA DARE AWARDS: Low Budget Campaign of the Year – Abigail’s Party at the MAC

Both campaigns were truly exciting and by working with clients that allowed us to be our creative selves, this enabled us to produce activity that exceeded all expectations.

In a very competitive category, the judges remarked that our launch of Six by Nico was ‘well-executed and a clear winner”. High praise indeed! This is a campaign that we are extremely proud of and demonstrates the strength of our social-first approach. We triumphed in this award category last year for our launch of Revolucion de Cuba – another amazing and fun client.

The judges commented that our campaign for the promotion of Abigail’s Party at the MAC delivered “great results for a tiny budget” and in fact “what they did with a small budget was extremely effective.”

Towards the end of the year we picked up Silver for Best Small Consultancy at The Pride Awards. This demonstrates how far we have come and is motivating us to get Gold in 2020 and beyond.

As for 2020! Well, we have big plans in place and over the next year you will see a lot of changes and advancements with Rumour Mill Creative Communications.

As a team we extremely passionate about what we can deliver for clients; not only will we be adding to the team, our services, our channels and our skill set but our clients also have a lot of exciting new plans in place for 2020 that we are super excited to be working on and announcing to you all shortly.

So, hello 2020…lets be having you! We are ready…are you???

£1.7M BOOST FROM SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUND AIMS TO INCREASE EMPLOYMENT RATES

£1.7M BOOST FROM SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUND AIMS TO INCREASE EMPLOYMENT RATES

Employment initiative, Let’s Work has received just under £1.7m funding from Northern Ireland Executive’s Social Investment Fund under the Delivering Social Change framework.  The programme aims to increase employment in areas of socio-economic needs across Northern Ireland and has welcomed over 50% participation since the scheme launched in September 2019.

Carrickfergus Enterprise is project managing the scheme alongside employability specialists, Network Personnel and it is set to be completed by December 2020 as its aims to engage with up to 160 participants from the top 10% or 20% socially disadvantaged areas including: Larne, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Antrim, Coleraine, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Moyle and Ballymoney.

The employment training programme will widen access to job opportunities and create meaningful pathways to employment.  The goals of the project include, reducing the number of unemployed people in the Social Investment Fund Northern zone, improve skill levels of long term unemployed, and increase personal confidence.

In just over 3 months, 53% of 160 participants are positively benefiting from “Let’s Work” and the next year will see further engagement to support people to enhance their skills, encourage training accreditation and convert work placements into full time equivalent roles.

Vice Chair of Carrickfergus Enterprise David McIlhagger said: “This significant investment and support for those who are unemployed is really encouraging. Our ethos at Carrickfergus Enterprise is to create jobs and we have already seen great success in terms of placing participants with key employers as well as developing participant skills and knowledge. Let’s Work encourages participants to strive toward a fresh start in employment as well as supporting businesses in gaining a skilled and knowledgeable work force. Through working closely with the project partners, we are seeing real change not only in attitudes but in lowering unemployment in lower socio-economic areas across Northern Ireland.

“Carrickfergus Enterprise has been responsible for a breadth of employability and business successes across the province.  This large-scale project can make positive changes to peoples lives and can go some way towards addressing some of the key barriers to employment and create positive news for the area.

Alex McKee from Network Personnel said, “We are delighted to be the Service Delivery Organisation for “Let’s Work”. The person-centred ethos of the project perfectly complements our existing suite of employability provision, bridging the gap for individuals who are furthest removed from the labour market and who will benefit most from a structured programme of support during their first few months of employment. By facilitating a perfect match between employer needs and participant aspirations, we can ensure a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience for both parties. “Let’s Work” is a fantastic grassroots stepping stone which will vastly enhance the long term employment prospects for a great number of people in our local communities”.

Dr Mark Browne – Director of Strategic Policy, Equality & Good Relations in the Executive Office added: “The Social Investment Fund was designed to find solutions to deliver real, lasting benefits for communities that need it most.  I am delighted that the £1.7m allocated to this project will assist with improving training and employment skill levels to enable access to job opportunities. It is great to see how this project is already benefiting those most in need across the SIF Northern Zone and adding to the great work already supported by SIF.”

NEW APP LAUNCHED TO ENHANCE TOURISM EXPERIENCES IN NORTHERN IRELAND

NEW APP LAUNCHED TO ENHANCE TOURISM EXPERIENCES IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Innovative and focused on the visitor to Northern Ireland, following an initial launch investment of £20,000, Carrickfergus Enterprise has this month introduced the Experience Northern Ireland App. Designed to be a one-stop itinerary planning solution for visitors, it is the only App of its kind available. Free to use, it enables users to plan ahead whilst visiting Northern Ireland.

Featuring must-see destinations in one easy to navigate App, ‘Experience Northern Ireland’, is a brand-new hospitality and tourism platform aimed at heightening awareness of Northern Ireland’s well-known and hidden gem locations whilst boosting footfall to businesses.  It aims to make tourism and hospitality businesses more discoverable by the visitor; a key aim behind this novel App.

Kelli Bagchus, Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise said: “After months of development and testing, we are delighted to launch our brand-new Experience Northern Ireland App. It is the perfect way for a visitor to plan everything from a fun day out, to a five-day tour around Northern Ireland.  The App creates an all-encompassing trip whether the visitor knows where they want to go or just discover great experiences along the way, we are confident that the itinerary created using the App is exactly what visitors to Northern Ireland need.

“The App isn’t just for holidaymakers; we want to encourage people living locally to explore the wonderful places right on their doorstep and perhaps discover some hidden treasures along their travels.”

Experience Northern Ireland focuses on helping visitors travelling within Northern Ireland create custom holiday itineraries. Visitors are completely in control of the planning as it houses information on accommodation, tour providers, heritage experiences, where to eat and what to do, as well as major attractions to visit all connected in one place.

Times and distances are also calculated automatically to ensure itineraries are maximised, mapping out the journey digitally for ease of travel.

The tourism and hospitality sector is one of the fastest growing in Northern Ireland and as a social enterprise it is a commitment of Carrickfergus Enterprise to support as many businesses as possible. Businesses in Northern Ireland can now be part of the Experience Northern Ireland App and enjoy the benefits of the complementary website and aggressive SEO and Marketing Strategy for 2020 and beyond.

To download the free App, search Experience Northern Ireland on your App store. If you would like your business, tourism experience or accommodation listed on the Experience Northern Ireland, please get in touch with Kelli at info@xperienceni.com or call 028 93369528.

CITY PICNIC TO RE-LAUNCH FOLLOWING £500,000 INVESTMENT

CITY PICNIC TO RE-LAUNCH FOLLOWING £500,000 INVESTMENT

Popular Belfast eatery, City Picnic is set to open its doors once against amidst a £500,000 investment, creating 35 new jobs in the process. As the last city centre tenant to reopen following the Primark Bank Buildings fire, City Picnic has undergone a major revamp and menu refresh since its closure in August 2018. Fronted by business partners Gavin Gregg and Arthur McAnerney, the Castle Street restaurant is poised to take Belfast by storm with its renewed commitment to speedy service and quality food.

Located on Castle Street, this marks the first major revamp of City Picnic since it first hit the Belfast food scene in 2011. Working with Northern Ireland based interior and fitout company, Terry Design – the space has been given a new lease of life, incorporating a mixture of quirky Nordic design elements with a urban chic finish. The space has been entirely reconfigured to ensure efficiency is at the forefront of City Picnic going forward whilst not comprising on aesthetics. An ‘outside in’ vibe has been created for the large unit featuring a wide range of plants, mixed with vibrant lighting and textures, resulting in a completely unique look for this new city-centre addition. The overhauled food selection encompasses breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a wide range of burgers, pizzas, salads, wraps and much more. City Picnic will offer a fast-food style service with the food sourced from natural and fresh ingredients from local providers.

With over 30 years’ cheffing experience working in restaurants all over the globe, co-founder Gavin Gregg expressed his anticipation for the people of Belfast to indulge in their rejuvenated menu. Gavin said, ‘We are delighted to finally be reopening City Picnic, having utilised our time after the fire to research and develop our menu to cater to the needs of the people of Belfast and beyond. Belfast has seen an influx of new restaurants in recent years, but we wanted to offer up something unique. Our new focus is on swift service without sacrificing the flavour and quality of the food on offer. Our customers could order a wrap, a burger or even a pizza and be presented with their order moments later. There are so many tantalising and mouth-watering choices on the new menu that I know customers will love.’

Sharing Gavin’s excitement, Arthur added, ‘Having to close the doors due to the Primark fire was a very difficult time for the business. We operated from a temporary catering trailer in Royal Avenue last year however we always knew we were going to eventually reopen in our original home. We spent time perfecting the menu, experimenting with innovative new food combinations and testing new recipes. We studied our space and assessed how we can best use the vast unit, making it a culinary hub in the city centre. So, whilst it wasn’t ideal to have to close the unit, we are excited about this new chapter for City Picnic. We are confident our customers, old and new, will love the revamp and will thoroughly enjoy the new menu.’

Operating seven days a week from 10am until 10pm, City Picnic will seamlessly switch from breakfast to lunch to dinner throughout the day without closing to customers. The menu will include offerings for all dietary requirements including gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan as well as a distinctive drinks menu with a variety of craft beers, wine and cocktails.  City Picnic will open to the public on Wednesday 4th December at 10am. For more information on City Picnic visit www.facebook.com/citypicnic

FOYLESIDE BRING BACK ‘SILENT SANTA’ VISITS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM

FOYLESIDE BRING BACK ‘SILENT SANTA’ VISITS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM

The highly-anticipated ‘Silent Santa’ initiative has returned to Foyleside Shopping Centre, enabling children with particular needs to visit Father Christmas in the comfort of a quiet environment.

On Wednesday evenings from 6-8pm – which is the Centre’s staple Quiet Shopping Night of the week – families with a child who has autism or sensory difficulties can visit Santa with the Centre’s background music turned off and tannoy announcements kept to a minimum.

The Silent Santa initiative was introduced to make the experience of visiting Saint Nick inclusive and accessible to children who may potentially become anxious in the face of excessive noise, queues or crowding during busy periods.

Centre Manager of Foyleside, Fergal Rafferty, said the service has had a positive impact on visiting families in previous years.

“Our Silent Santa initiative proved to be extremely beneficial and well-received last year by parents and children, so we felt it was important to ensure this returned to Foyleside to create an entirely inclusive Centre for those who want to enjoy Santa the same way others can, but in a calm and considered way.

“At Foyleside, we have made a number of significant changes to support those with additional needs in the last 12 months, including our new Sensory Room, which features fibre optics, bubble tubes and customisable sound and light levels to help remove anxiety and distress. We have worked very closely with Autism NI to become more autism friendly and our staff have also been provided with specific training – so we really are making great improvements to make the Centre as accessible as possible.”

Silent Santa will run every Wednesday evening until 11th December. Quiet Shopping Nights are every Wednesday 6-8pm.

For more information on Foyleside’s special needs services, visit: www.foyleside.co.uk/centre-info/services/

EXTRA CARE LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGY TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE OF THE CHARITY

EXTRA CARE LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGY TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE OF THE CHARITY

Extra Care, Northern Ireland’s longest established domiciliary care charity is set to launch its three-year Strategic Plan, ‘Finding Our Way’, at a VIP event in Stormont this week.

Despite recent challenges within the Social Care sector in Northern Ireland, Extra Care has taken a heads-on approach to move the charity forward and embrace ambitious opportunities in the future. After undertaking in-depth consultations in 2018 with staff and service users, it was identified that a three-year Strategic Plan would place the charity in a stronger position to continue providing the best possible care for service users, whilst maintaining a positive staff support and training system.

The ‘Finding Our Way’ Strategy will signpost how Extra Care delivers its services, connects with communities, develops partnerships and celebrate its staff and service users in the future, through the Charity’s Purpose, Vision and Values.

In the past year, Extra Care has welcomed significant changes to include an investment in excess of £190,000 creating 28 new jobs, as well as the opening of three new support hubs in Belfast, Carrickfergus and Cookstown.

Brian Hutchinson, CEO of Extra Care said, “We are delighted to announce the launch of our Strategy 2019 – 2022.  We believe this forward-thinking plan will allow us to continually provide the best Person-Centred care, whilst strengthening our links within the community. It is also an opportunity to broaden and strengthen staff training as well as provide career support to enable growth within Extra Care.”

Brian adds, “The launch is a chance for like-minded people from across the Health and Social Care Trusts, local politicians and elderly care charities to familiarise themselves with the positive work we do and establish new collaborative relationships going forward. We are privileged to have just welcomed our new Chair, Dame Joan Harbison and the Board is optimistic for the future of our organisation.”

Extra Care was established in 1935, providing health and social care services in Northern Ireland, operating across four of the Trust areas. Currently the organisation employs over 300 staff, committed to providing service users with the support they need to maintain living in their home their way.

For more information about Extra Care visit: http://extra-care.org

AMERCIAN HOLIDAYS INVESTS IN THE FUTURE OF ITS BELFAST BASE

AMERCIAN HOLIDAYS INVESTS IN THE FUTURE OF ITS BELFAST BASE

Northern Ireland’s US Travel Specialist, American Holidays opens the doors on its brand-new premises in Belfast City Centre, following a significant investment and a renewed strategy to grow its operations locally.

Whilst remaining in Lombard Street, American Holidays will now occupy the old Ulster Bank site that has lay vacant for several years. This new space will allow for the expansion of its retail shop and call centre for its trade partners, with a larger dedicated Belfast team in place to answer every call.

The new retail shop will be a relaxed and comfortable environment for both staff and customers. Planning a holiday to the USA can be daunting at times; therefore it is reassuring to speak directly with a specialist to receive expert advice – something American Holidays continues to see a demand for from customers.

Speaking on the continued success of American Holidays, Karen Sheals Hoy, Manager says: “We pride ourselves in offering a seamless and dedicated customer journey delivered through exceptional service. It is this passion shown by the team that resonates with our customers and gives them confidence in the services we offer. Today American Holidays has over 50 staff based in Belfast, Dublin and Leeds and we are proud to be part of the world’s largest collection of specialist travel brands.

“American Holidays has developed longstanding relationships across the industry, and we continue to forge new associations. American Holidays prides itself in having a dedicated team in place to negotiate and secure the best prices for our customers, so we can remain competitive in the marketplace.”

Starting as an independently owned company in Lombard Street 27 years ago, the business has gone from strength to strength. American Holidays opened its Belfast branch in 1991 and this new level of investment into the branch signals confidence in the local market and the continued demand for this specialist travel offering.

The larger premises will now allow for a new dedicated training room to be housed onsite, enabling American Holidays to host regular training sessions for their staff and the Northern Ireland Travel Trade with partnered airlines, hotels, destination team specialists and suppliers.

Karen says: “As specialists in our field we can share the expertise we have at our fingertips with those who support us and to better develop everyone’s knowledge, especially of the lesser known areas of the USA and Canada”.

Astrid Bell, Cruise Product Manager, Belfast and Dublin adds: “American Holidays’ biggest strength is our team. We know North America inside and out, upside and down and have a great heritage as a specialist North American Tour Operator. We go the extra mile and know that it’s often the little things that make a big difference. Our sales staff have collectively visited almost every state, so we have the USA and Canada covered.

“We understand the need to invest in education and training for our staff and work very closely with training partners to develop training programmes for all.”

American Holidays is part of Travelopia, the world’s largest collection of Specialist Travel Brands. It is always working to develop and grow new products to the USA & Canada – next year will be no different. 2020 will see a new 148-page North America brochure and a 100-page Escorted Touring brochure including Cruise and Canada. The new brochures will offer some new exciting experiences while also offering some old favourites. The new brochures will hit the shelves November 2019.

American Holidays is summed up in its tagline, Possibilities Unlimited!

END

GLENS COASTAL TOURISM INITIATIVE CREATES 58 NEW JOBS

GLENS COASTAL TOURISM INITIATIVE CREATES 58 NEW JOBS

Carrickfergus Enterprise has announced that results of its recent tourism initiative, ‘Glens Coastal Hub’ has exceeded expectations, boosting sales, local visitor expenditure, jobs, and visitor numbers.

Funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and following on from the huge success of its East Antrim Coastal Hub pilot in 2015, this new initiative has had a direct impact on the number of visitors and expenditure in the East Antrim Coastal Way route. Ambitious targets were in place from the outset, yet these have been surpassed significantly with the creation of 58 full time, part time and casual jobs and over 22,000 new visitors to the region, resulting in over £3million generated in additional expenditure.

The overall goal of the scheme was to develop the capacity and confidence of local businesses within the area, that are often considered the ‘hidden gems’ of the region but are not necessarily on the typical tourist routes.

The Glens Coastal Hub was devised to increase sales, enhance visitor experiences and fully take advantage of the huge opportunities’ tourism can offer for the local area. 30 businesses signed up to take part and avail of support services such as business mentoring, ICT support, WorldHost training, mystery shopping and a joint marketing campaign which included a visitor map and website.

Kelli Bagchus, Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, said: “The success of our East Antrim Coastal Hub and tourism map set the precedent for what could be achieved in the tourism sector within the area. It was therefore the right time to request further funding to create a larger spectrum of support. With the local interest high and the strong proposition already existing it made sense for us to build on this momentum.

“This programme has enabled us to showcase our diverse range of tourism attractions from across Ballygally to Ballycastle/Rathlin, that include the Ossian’s Grave, Layde Church, Dark Hedges Estate, the Ballygally Castle Hotel, Cranny Falls and Glenariff Forest Park; whilst empowering the businesses across these areas to capitalise on the buoyant tourism industry.

“With tourism at the fore of Northern Ireland’s economy, it is in our interest to support the lesser known locations, to keep history and heritage alive as well as helping the launch of new tourism businesses in the area.”

Speaking on his involvement in the programme, Gary O’Loughlin from Laragh Lodge said: “The programme has been really successful and has definitely brought us more business. We attended various workshops including social media training which was very helpful. The publicity from the programme put a spotlight on us and being located beside the Glenariff Waterfall has brought even more tourists to us.”

The project is funded by Coastal Communities Fund which is funded by the government with income from the Crown Estate Marine Assets. It is delivered by Big Lottery on behalf of the UK Government.

Sarah Daly, Funding Officer from The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We are delighted that Coastal Communities Fund has been able to support the Glens Coastal Hub Programme. It enables smaller businesses to develop their capacity, enabling them to capitalise on the growing tourism industry in Northern Ireland. It also helps to highlight what Northern Ireland has to offer beyond the major tourism sites. Thus, encouraging longer stays and contributing to and increased visitor spend.”

Carrickfergus Enterprise has created a successful model specialising in supporting tourism and hospitality businesses where it will seek opportunities to further support even more businesses to sustain and grow the future of this industry.

ENDS

JONZARA SECURES THE FUTURE OF ‘GERRY WEBER’ IN UK & IRELAND

JONZARA SECURES THE FUTURE OF ‘GERRY WEBER’ IN UK & IRELAND

Popular German fashion brand Gerry Weber announced last month it will close its UK store estate by October 2019, but have chosen to award its sole franchise in the UK and Ireland to local family business Jonzara.

Last year, Jonzara took over the Gerry Weber store in Newtownards and this announcement means it will continue to offer the popular brand to shoppers across the UK & Ireland. Since then the team has worked hard to grow demand for the Gerry Weber range via its online platform and store provision.

The independent retailer, which began trading in 2008, specialises in contemporary women’s clothing and remains steadfast despite the ongoing high street closures. Along with its Gerry Weber store, Jonzara has two stores in Newtownards and Lisburn. The business invested £150,000 in its 3300sq.ft Lisburn premises in 2017 with further development plans in the pipeline. It currently employs 26 local people across all three stores, with more recruitment underway.

Reflecting on Gerry Weber’s decision to cement its franchise contract with Jonzara, Director Jonathan McCann says:

“This is fantastic news and recognition of our proactive approach to growing Gerry Weber’s loyal customer base. Growth in store and online is equally matched. Now that we are going to be the sole Gerry Weber store in the UK and Ireland, this makes our offering even more exclusive for our customers.

“By showcasing a variety of designer brands in a range of sizes to suit any occasion and combining this with exceptional service, we have had the opportunity to grow.”

Director Sarah McCann adds: “We have seen a lot of additional growth online, not just for the Gerry Weber range. Our website exports Jonzara brands to over 50 countries worldwide including USA, Canada and Australia. The great news for our customers is that our online expansion has enabled us to offer an ever-increasing range of products both instore and online.”

Jonzara boasts an impressive array of designer labels and a selection of occasion wear and mother of the bride outfits appealing to the increase in demand for more formal attire as well as smart workwear.

EMPOWERING RETAILERS AND CONSUMERS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FOOD WASTE

EMPOWERING RETAILERS AND CONSUMERS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FOOD WASTE

Food waste is a huge issue and has recently been described as an “environmental, economic and moral scandal” by Ben Elliott[1].  Recent Northern Ireland figures shows that in total, Northern Ireland’s councils collected 230,942 tonnes of LAC municipal waste between October and December 2018.[2]

To put that number into perspective, this amounts to approximately £200m of food waste and 1.4m tonnes of greenhouse gases emissions.

It is these hard-hitting facts that has driven the vision behind Gander, the worlds first mobile app empowering consumers to reduce food waste and save money on their weekly food bill.

“Everyone loves bagging a bargain at the supermarket and reduced priced food is a great way to achieve this whilst still eating great food.  Gander displays reduced price food on an app all in real time meaning you can see what yellow stickered items are available in real time, saving money on your weekly shop.” Enthuses Ashley Osborne, one of the creators behind Gander.

“Environmentally, food waste is a crisis and is one of today’s growing issues with forecasts indicating a substantial increase by 2030 unless serious action is taken.  Worst still, a significant proportion of this waste is completely avoidable.  A yellow label doesn’t mean the food lacks the same great taste and versality when it comes to cooking family favourite dishes.

“For retailers reduced food can cost them up to 7% of their turnover.  At a time when margins are being squeezed, this is revenue sitting on their shelves and that customers locally would love to buy, they just don’t know it is there”,

Ashley Osborne, is one of the team members behind this world’s first mobile platform, developed to connect available reduced price, (often “yellow stickered”) food produce at your nearest retail store, in real-time.

During his time living and working in London, Ashley would finish work most days close to the closing time (unfortunately!) of his local food store.  At this hour, the shelves were awash with yellow stickers, and he knew, given that it was closing in a few minutes time, the food was most probably going to surplus or in the bin.

Despite this, it wasn’t until he came across a supplement in a National Paper discussing how food waste and its impact on the environment is set to be one of the leading man-made crises of the next 20 years.

At this stage the solution seemed obvious and this is when Gander was born!

Supermarkets and convenience stores were already reducing a vast array of food products, only issues was no one knew about it.  If this information was made more accessible online and to thousands more people surely it would mean more of this food was bought and less became surplus.  It was a win win for the retailer and the customer.

The idea seemed simple, the technology not so and some of the initial digital agencies Gander worked with pushed them down the route of something that involved manually uploading these items as they were stickered.  Whilst this solution looked good it was not real time and was not reliable.

It was back to the drawing board and further research was done.  All the time during this, the recognition of food waste and its environmental impact was becoming more and more mainstream.

It was a discussion with their now Chief Technology Officer and a forward-thinking EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) provider that they realised this solution was not just a possibility, it was achievable.  It required a clever system with several moving parts, which was subsequently built, and this is where Gander in its fully automated current guise was born.

Gander is unique for this industry and a world first in its category.  It displays reduced price food automatically.  This means there is absolutely no changes in-store, once integrated, Gander simply works.

Gander integrates with many Point of Sale (“POS”) systems (or other retailer data feeds) to push the reduced food products to the mobile app, usually when they are stickered in-store.  Similarly, when that item is sold it is automatically removed from the app, providing a real time feed of all reductions in-store at any time to the customers locally.

In addition, Gander has a detailed analytics platform, which gives retailers a 360-degree analysis of their reduction’s metrics and performance as well as interactions with their reductions.  Again, all in real time.

After reaching out to several EPOS providers with the view to integrating with their systems; Henderson’s Technology and EDGEPoS was one of the most progressive ones the Gander team had looked at.

The Henderson Group has a fantastic sustainability and CSR programme in place with a proactive focus on waste reduction. It is for this reason that the team chose to work with the group to launch Gander to market for the first time.

In addition to the partnership with the Henderson Group and its impressive technology offering, Northern Ireland became the launch pad for Gander particularly as Northern Ireland stores have a very large reliance on fresh food. A product especially date sensitive.  Gander’s proposition is completely different to anything on the market and the team is confident it will make a significant impact on supporting retailers and consumers alike in addressing food waste.

Gander is rolling out across the UK and ROI following the successful launch of the app in NI, to help drastically reduce waste at a National level.

See how the Gander app works here: http://bit.ly/2maYjoi

The Gander app can be downloaded now via the Apple or Android app stores – click here or just search ‘Gander’.

You can also follow @getgander on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/31/food-waste-chief-to-target-scandal-of-250m-binned-uk-meals

[2] https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/news/northern-ireland-local-authority-collected-municipal-waste-management-statistics-released-13