Sainsbury is aiming to strengthen its position in Northern Ireland ahead of the arrival of Asda.
Speaking at its Northern Ireland Supplier of the Year awards, retail director Ken McMeikan said the retailer would up its spend on locally sourced lines to £250m from £205m in the coming year.
The move has been welcomed by suppliers despite the criticism Sainsbury received this year after it cut back contracts with Dungannon Meats and Farm Fed Chicken. Michael Bell, executive director of the Northern Ireland Retail Trade Association, said: “Sainsbury should be praised for its open, progressive dealings with local suppliers.”
Asda, which has made a strong play of its local sourcing, gained OFT approval for the takeover of 12 of the 13 Northern Irish Safeways this week. It hopes to open the first Asda in September.
Meanwhile, Morrisons is having trouble off-loading its last Safeway in Downpatrick. Asda refused to include it as part of the original deal because of structural concerns. Morrisons said it had no intention of running a stand-alone store in Northern Ireland. No bidders have come forward.