From Small Beginnings to Major Player
The history of the Boyne Valley Group goes back to the early days of the last century, when the McCloskey family owned a transport business in Drogheda, Co. Louth. When his company was nationalised in 1937, Patrick McCloskey, the father of the present company chairman, took a job with the GNR (Great Northern Railway); however, the entrepreneurial streak was deeply embedded in the McCloskey psyche and in 1940 he bought a bakery and later three shops in the town.
At 16 years of age, his son, Malachy McCloskey, started working in one of these family shops during the school holidays. His first week as a retailer saw the shop record a turnover of £140. Bitten by the retailing bug, within two years he had increased the turnover substantially.
Honey was an important part of the shop’s offering, and when his original supplier died in 1958, Malachy sourced new supplies from beekeepers in both Drogheda and Wexford. Soon he had more honey than he could sell in his own shop and approached other retailers in the town to buy the surplus. From this simple transaction came the Boyne Valley name and the first of the company’s brands.
During the years that followed Boyne Valley honey sales expanded both north and south of the island of Ireland.
In 1966, Boyne Valley Honey found its permanent home in Mell in Drogheda – purely by coincidence the name is derived from the Irish for honey (mil/meala). Looking for a second strong brand, Malachy McCloskey decided on marmalade oranges. He went to Seville, sourced a can-filler, a can-selaer and an orange dealer, and canned his first consignment of marmalade oranges in a few frantic days. Within a few years, annual sales of the Homecook brand reached half a million tins. A peanut butter factory in the Netherlands that was ceasing operations provided the next strong brand. Malachy McCloskey brought the machinery back from Amsterdam, trained personnel and introduced the Panda brand to Irish consumers.
Cooking chocolate followed (Wonderchoc) then tinned fish (Rob Roy). More recently, Boyne Valley returned to its Spanish beginnings with the Don Carlos brand. Malachy McCloskey believes that the Don Carlos Range is an example of how rapidly Irish food tastes have changed. Don Carlos is the brand leader in the irish olive oil market, and it is credited with establishing olive oil as a household name on Irish Supermarket shelves. The Group is also in the popular Italian food category with the Giovanni di Firenze brand, a range of oil, pastas, cooking sauces and pizzas.
The household cleaning brand ‘Killeen’ range includes refuse sacks, soap pads, sponges. Other group brands include Harvest Fare for all snacking occasions. Lifeforce foods – foods at the heart of a healthy life and Lakeshore fine food selection.