Business Plus

Taxpayers’ Huge Investment In Sustaining Enterprise

The SEF scheme was a lifeline for many SMEs during the pandemic. Ciara Troy of Oishii Foods tells Robert O’Brien how the funding helped her business to survive and thrive


Oishii Foods, one of Ireland’s leading artisan producers of convenienc­e Japanese sushi, is proving to be a good catch for the Irish market. Launched in 2006 by Ciara Troy, the raw fish business has recently increased its haul in many Irish stores and is now moving upstream into Tesco and Lidl in Northern Ireland. While many enterprise­s were hammered by the pandemic, Oishii Foods prospered. One reason was the Sustaining Enterprise Fund (SEF) introduced by government to assist SMEs. The SEF has disbursed €200m to recipients, and a large chunk of the taxpayer funding doesn’t have to be paid back. “The Covid lockdowns were a very anxious time for all of us at Oishii,” Troy recalls. “It meant changing our map and altering production timing in line with all of the new restrictio­ns and challenges. Fortunatel­y, we were a client of Enterprise Ireland, and the challenges of both Brexit and Covid led us to reach out for the Sustaining Enterprise Fund to stay on top of market trends to stay afloat. There is no doubt that we benefited greatly from conducting a strategic marketing review recommende­d by the agency and then submitting an SEF applicatio­n.” This €300,000 cash injection received in October 2020 transforme­d the health of the business. Abridged financial statement disclose that Oishii Foods Ltd ended 2020 with balance sheet cash of €688,000 compared with €124,000 a year earlier. The company booked a net profit of €153,000 in encourage other companies to reach out for help and to take available funding. It is through working together, collaborat­ion and shared ideas that we can all progress.” Does Oishii have to pay back the funding? “Yes, we will pay back 50% of the funding awarded to us over a period of time,” she explains. Ciara Troy attended Loreto on St Stephen’s Green. She initially studied Music in TCD but changed direction and decided to travel for a few years before returning to TCD to study BESS. “I studied Japanese business and language in Tokyo and it was during my time there that I fell in love with their cuisine. I had basic knowledge of sushi and lots of recipe ideas when I returned to Ireland. I hired a Japanese lady to work with me at my house, and together we honed our recipes and skills.” Her company was incorporat­ed in 2010 when she was 31 years old. The first prep kitchen was in Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow. It was one room with a steel table and a Coca-Cola display fridge in the corner. The business moved to a bigger unit in Bray before relocating again to the Spade Enterprise Centre in Dublin 7. In the start-up phase, Wicklow LEO and Dublin City LEO provided support and assistance. “There is work involved in applying for funding,” says Troy. “It takes time and there are a lot of elements to pull together, but it is important to go through these steps in order to determine how much support is needed.” Having more resources to expand production has enabled Oishii to

 ?? ?? Funding from the Sustaining Enterprise Fund has enabled Ciara Troy’s sushi producer to expand into Northern Ireland
Funding from the Sustaining Enterprise Fund has enabled Ciara Troy’s sushi producer to expand into Northern Ireland

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