Ahead of the herd for 18 years

Pictured is beef farmer, Peter Rice and (left) his son Liam, who breed and rear Red Limousin and White Charolais cattle at their family farm in Keady, specially for Peter's Springisland supermarket business which opened in Coalisland eighteen years ago, complete with a unique 'field to fork' butchery.
Pictured is beef farmer, Peter Rice and (left) his son Liam, who breed and rear Red Limousin and White Charolais cattle at their family farm in Keady, specially for Peter's Springisland supermarket business which opened in Coalisland eighteen years ago, complete with a unique 'field to fork' butchery.

When Springisland Supermarket in Coalisland opened its doors 18 years ago, the new owner, local beef farmer, Peter Rice was stepping into the retail field for the first time.

However, the passionate young farmer had no intentions of hanging up his wellies. Peter became the very first independent grocery retailer in Mid Ulster to introduce a ‘field to fork’ butchery concept to his supermarket, supplied with top quality meat from cattle bred and reared at his own farm in the heart of the Keady countryside.

Today the thriving independent store boasts 10,000 sq. feet of grocery shopping space including a hot food deli and instore bakery, as well as its famous butchery department, and is a much loved and respected Tyrone institution, supporting a local workforce of over 80 employees.

Now a well-known face in the Coalisland community, Peter Rice still shares his time between his farm and Springisland and he recalls,

“Back in 1997, running my own supermarket was a bit of a daunting prospect but the ‘pasture to plate’ butchery concept gave me a real passion for the business. Customers loved the fact that I bred and reared my own Red Limousin and White Charolais beef cattle, specially for Springisland. It was a real unique selling point and that’s still true today.

“There’s now three generations of farmers looking after the cattle destined for Springisland. I’m supported by my father, Peter and my 16 year old son, Liam who is carrying on the family farming tradition. Customers can be confident that our animals are responsibly cared for, all our meat is Farm Quality Assured and is fully traceable to our traditional farm in Keady. The beef is top quality, is 28-day matured on site and our local master butcher, Gabriel Mullan has 25 years’ experience, so right through to point of purchase it’s handled and prepared with expert care and attention. Importantly, it means I can offer Springisland shoppers exceptional quality, farm-fresh local produce at the very best prices and that’s real value for our customers.”

Peter firmly believes that Springisland Supermarket’s enduring success lies in locking horns with new challenges and staying ahead of the herd. He added: “We’ve built on the success of our unique butchery and continue to stay a cut above the competition by meeting the needs of modern shoppers with investment in new product development. We’re constantly exploring new ways to surprise and delight our customers and offer added value. Springisland has remained true to our core philosophy of investment in local people, suppliers, products and services. Our on-the-ground research is matching national trends where shoppers are voicing growing disenchantment with the big, soulless supermarket chains. We’re seeing increasing loyalty for independent local family businesses who have been genuinely supporting their local economies and communities for years with real heart and passion.”

The town’s longest established supermarket has seen increasing demand for its freshly prepared own-brand, convenience foods and homemade ready meals, made daily on site.

New specialities include unique gluten-free and Slimmer’s Choice ranges. The hot food counter and deli counter has refreshed and expanded its menus and freshly-made hot pizzas are getting a larger slice of the action. The instore bakery is seeing increased orders for celebration cakes and a convenient new delivery service for groceries and deli food platters is now on the road, with deliveries in hot demand with local businesses as well as households. Store manager, Austin Kelly from Dungannon who, like most of the staff, has been working at Springisland for many years, said: “We are very grateful for the opportunity to build genuine loyal relationships with generations of local families and businesses who have enjoyed quality convenience shopping at highly competitive prices and, of course, secure employment with us over the past eighteen years.

“We’re proud indeed to belong to the hearts and minds of the Coalisland community. Springisland is big enough to give customers everything they’re looking for at the lowest possible prices, helping to keep money in local pockets, but we’re also small enough to care.

“We pride ourselves on running a business with warmth and personality, where our fantastic staff will give people a helping hand and take time to smile and chat because they want to, not because they’re told to. I think that’s where the real value lies for local shoppers.”

Springisland Supermarket’s 18th anniversary celebrations are now in full swing with fantastic instore prize competitions and money-off promotions including, of course, a mega anniversary meat sale which runs until the 15th November 2015, with at least 40% off selected butchery items.