Sainsbury has named James Laws the head of its new buying unit for Northern Ireland.
The retailer is setting up the dedicated regional buying unit as competition in the province looks set to intensify following Asda’s imminent entry.
Since the news broke in June that Asda was entering Northern Ireland, Sainsbury has been busy shoring up its relationship with suppliers and customers.
Its buying unit will be made up of six full-time employees at its Forestside site in Belfast, headed by regional buying manager Laws. He was previously JS’s regional product manager for Northern Ireland,
Scotland and northern England, and through this position is well-known in the Northern Ireland agri-food sector.
Laws said that one of his first initiatives in his new role would be to put an extra promotional drive behind local products and would aim to feature at least 25 Northern Ireland products per month in monthly promotions.
“We have been in discussion with Northern Ireland suppliers on an ongoing basis and I know they will appreciate having a dedicated team. The regional buying unit will cement our relationship with local suppliers and bring ever more exciting and high quality products to Northern Ireland customers.”
Sainsbury is now sourcing £200m of products from local suppliers in the province and pledge to increase that spend by 20% in the coming year.
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Dimitri Prins is the MLC’s new export development manager. Prins joins from Dutch meat supplier Dumeco and replaces Henry Lewis who is retiring.

Last week we reported on the appointment of Roger Burnley as supply chain director at Sainsbury, to replace Lawrence Christensen. Christensen will support the management in an advisory capacity until December 2006 - not December 2005.
Beth Brooks and Ronan Hegarty
shloer thing
mlc exports
advisory role