The Dunnes Stores Simply Better collection has a well-deserved reputation for award-winning
food and drink. Behind the scenes it also champions small Irish producers, helping them to grow while doing what they do best.
We caught up with Patrick McCloskey of the long-established McCloskey’s Bakery in Drogheda, Co. Louth. These days, in a fast-changing world, it’s refreshing to see an Irish family-owned business that has stood the test of time and McCloskey’s is exactly that.
Established in 1940, McCloskey’s celebrated an incredible 80 years in business last year, although Covid put the brakes on any big marking of the occasion. Patrick McCloskey is a third generation baker and grandson of McCloskey’s founder, Paddy Sr. He’s been involved in the company since 1985 and in 2007 oversaw the bakery’s relocation to a state-of-the-art facility in Ballymakenny, Drogheda.
The family-run business has not only been part of its local community for generations, with a number of bakeries and coffee shops to its name, it also has a long-standing relationship with Dunnes Stores going back decades. “We really got into working with Dunnes Stores in the early ’80s, supplying locally,” Patrick explains. “And then, over the years, we started supplying to the northeast region and north Dublin.”
The relationship has always been a good one so it’s perhaps not surprising that not so long ago the Dunnes Stores Simply Better team came to Patrick with a suggestion. “They asked if we would be interested in looking at a Simply Better product for them, in the line of hot cross buns and we said yes. So, in conjunction with the Simply Better team we developed the recipe,” he says.
The result was a range of hot cross buns in four flavours. “The most popular one, the core one I suppose, is the all-butter one which is made with Irish butter,” Patrick says. “Then there’s Triple Berry, Chocolate and Seville Orange and Apple and Cinnamon. It’s a nice twist on a traditional product.”
The hot cross buns went into Dunnes stores last April and have been very well received, selling more than was originally predicted. Also, while hot cross buns are intrinsically linked with Easter, they’re proving to be a strong seller throughout the year.
With 80 years’ experience, McCloskey’s knows a thing or two about what makes a great product and Patrick is quick to acknowledge that quality ingredients, particularly Irish ingredients, are a very important part of the recipe for success.
“We use as many Irish ingredients as we possibly can,” he says. “And if we can source locally we do. Our flour comes from two mills on the island of Ireland and we use Irish butter too.” Having good relationships with local suppliers is more important than ever now as Brexit and the ongoing Covid pandemic cause issue and delays with supplies for many business and industries. “Locally, if you can, all the way,” Patrick says.“It’s good for provenance and it’s good for supply.”
While the partnership with the Simply Better brand is a relatively new one, Patrick is delighted that the bakery’s historic relationship with Dunnes Stores has also taken this exciting new direction. He clearly enjoys working with the team too. “Simply Better is a quality brand, the team are very good and it’s been an eyeopener working with them. Hopefully down the road there might be additional products to complement what we’re already doing very well.”
While Covid 19 has brought challenges Patrick is full of ideas for the future. “We’re a regional bakery, we’re 80 years of age and we’d like to consider ourselves as a good quality craft bakery that produce a wide range of products. And we look to improve that quality at all times.”
Find out more about McCloskey's Bakery here.
Brought to you in partnership with the Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection.