Wednesday, 12 August 2009


© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Sawers Proprietor Kieran Sloan at work

During a recession, many businesses decide to cut costs, lay off staff, and generally hunker down and hope they can ride it out until economic conditions improve. Others, in a different survival mode, adopt a more aggressive business approach and try to expand their business base by innovation of new product lines and greater outreach to customers.

The latter approach is the one that Keiran Sloan, proprietor of Sawers Ltd., has adopted. The
delicatessen store, a landmark business in downtown Belfast, has been trading since the 1890’s. Originally located in High Street, the store was located for many years at the corner of Castle Street and Fountain Lane before moving to its present location at the nearby Fountain Centre in College Street.

Sloan, bought the former family owned business seven years ago, and has continued to expand the range of specialist delicatessen foods ever since. The business now employs 14 people on a full and part-time basis.

A year ago, the innovative Sloan, in conjunction with a London-based company, began to develop a line of South African farm-bred meats and delicacies. If you stroll College Street Friday and Saturdays, you will encounter Sloan outside the store cooking up sample treats and promoting his unusual range of meat products. The fare includes; Zebra, Camel, Wildebeest, Springbok, steaks; Kangaroo, Crocodile, Ostrich, Rattlesnake, Python, steaks and burgers; and if you just want a little finger food, chocolate covered ants, green curry crickets, and my very own favourite, BBQ flavoured worms.

You might well ask. Who buys this? Well, say Sloan, “A large part of the business is from people throwing parties, birthday, anniversaries, that kind of thing. For these kinds of events a lot of people, want a little something different. When I set up the outside stall at the weekend people are attracted by the smell of cooking. Last weekend I did over 180 orders over the lunchtime to shoppers and local shop workers.”

For Sloan, marching to the beat of a different drum has paid off. He is currently looking for warehouse space for the expanding business, and is upgrading his web site with a view to mail order business. Not a bad result, on the back of Camel steaks, et al.

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