Northern Ireland’s family-owned ice cream brand, Morelli’s, has completed the third and final phase of a major three-year investment program, with support from Ulster Bank.
The business has invested GBP350,000 to expand its Coleraine base of operations, including expanding its production and storage facilities, adding an additional 3,300 sq. ft. to the now 10,000 sq. ft. north coast factory, and modernizing its head offices.
The latest phase forms part of an overall GBP700,000 investment program which launched in 2015. It follows upgrades to manufacturing equipment, the development of a large-capacity freezer store, and the refurbishment of its flagship parlor in Portrush. The project was also supported with a capital grant from Invest NI.
Arnaldo Morelli, who heads up the business, explains how the expansion is supporting the brand to increase production capacity: “Following an extensive three-year investment program, our newly expanded Coleraine facility is now fully operational. We were operating near to full capacity, producing 700,000 liters annually. The investment has enabled us to almost treble production capacity to 2 million liters per year.”
The company is now looking to expand into new export markets.
“As well as our own family stores, we supply supermarkets and hundreds of independent retailers across Northern Ireland. This investment will enable us to increase exports to ROI and explore new markets in GB, safe in the knowledge that we have the capacity to fulfil growing consumer demand.”
Over the summer months, Northern Ireland experienced near-record temperatures resulting in a major boost to business, explains Arnaldo. He said: “We’re operating in an industry on the crest of a wave at the minute. Ice cream sales surged over the summer as we basked in sunshine. Mintel reports that in 2017, the value of the retail ice cream market on the island of Ireland was worth EUR248m and that it’s projected to hit EUR296m by 2022.”
Rhonda McClelland, Business Development Manager at Ulster Bank, says: “The Morelli brand is steeped in tradition and a shining example of Northern Ireland’s growing list of quality food and drink producers. We’re extremely proud to support the Morelli family as they expand their business and explore export opportunities to new markets.”
The Morelli family has been making ice cream since 1911. They operate a number of family-owned retail outlets across Northern Ireland and several franchised units. In 2018, the business collected seven Great Taste Gold Star awards and double Gold at the annual Ice Cream Alliance Awards.