Planning for the Future
As demand for the company’s tasty produce continues to rise across the globe, the duo are excited to move into the next phase of growth. Kevin says: “We’re hoping to double the maturing space for our cheese and add an educational room within the next 12 months. We want to bring in visitors and give local schools and tour groups the chance to see where the cheese is made.”
Help from the couple’s local First Trust Bank* team has been crucial. Kevin notes: “The relationship we have with First Trust Bank is excellent. They’ve been very supportive in getting our accounts set up and opened as well as with our expansion plans. We’ve also been able to use online banking, which is so important to us given our location in the Sperrins.”
“They’re very welcoming and helpful in the branch when we go in and very contactable,” he adds.
Award-Winning Local Produce
Along with building onto their County Derry site, fans can look forward to some more delicious flavours coming soon. Julie reveals: “I’m working on a new goat’s cheese currently and Kevin is working on a smoked cheese. We listen to customers coming up to us and asking for different types.”
With big plans in the pipeline, it’s clear that the Hickeys have hit upon a winning formula. And while their products are winning fans across the globe, the cheese has also captured the attention of the expert culinary community.
Julie explains: “We have a very close working relationship with a local beer company in the city of Derry and we use one of their pale ales to wash one of our cheeses in. We’re based here in the parish of Banagher, and we’ve named it the Banagher Bold cheese because the beer gives it that hint of boldness. We were delighted when the cheese won gold at the World Cheese Awards last year in Spain. To get something like that and have it be a gold is really great.”
“When Kevin called and told me, I thought he was having a laugh! It was just so nice. I would be making cheese no matter what, but it gives you that little push. Who knows what might happen next?”
For anyone considering a move into setting up a craft or artisan business, Julie advocates taking the leap. She notes: “Everyone’s journey is going to be different. I would say don’t be scared, but it is scary. It’s more hours than you could have ever dreamed of, but it really is worth it.”
Find out more about how First Trust Bank can support your Start-Up business. Contact your local advisor today.
Want to meet local start-ups and entrepreneurs? Then we’re delighted to invite you to attend the AIB Start-up Academy Summit, which takes place on Thursday February 9th at LIFE Church in Belfast. Guests on the night will get the chance to network and learn from the best, with a special panel of well-known business leaders on hand to share their learnings and advice. Head online for more information on the event and to register for tickets.