The Chairman, Chief Executive, Directors, members and staff deeply regret the tragic passing of Denis Lynn, Chairman of Finnebrogue Artisan in Downpatrick as a result of an accident.
A serial and successful entrepreneur, Denis was an inspirational personality within the Northern Ireland food and drink industry and a tremendous visionary for all that FoodNI stands for. His creative thinking, dedication, energy and talents will be greatly missed.
His career in food and drink is one driven by this creativity from the earliest days in 1985 when he established Lynn’s Country Foods and developed original products including chips from an innovative production process. He launched the chips in 1988 they proved an outstanding success with hotels, restaurants and cafes in Northern Ireland.
He spotted a business opportunity at the huge 700-acreFinnebrogue Estate, near Downpatrick, and went on to create the UK’s biggest deer farm. He created Oisin branded venison for top chefs such as Heston Bluementhal and high-end retailers especially Marks and Spencer. Oisin Venison was sold throughout M&S stores.
The close relationship he developed with M&Sunderpinned the next stage in his business journey – the creation of a range of premium pork sausages that also led to business with other supermarket chains. He supported the business by investing in a new processing plant outside Downpatrick.
The confidence of M&S and faith in Denis and Finnebrogue led to another pioneering product range geared to meet the business opportunity provided by the emergence of the flexitarian diet which replaced meat content with plant foods. The Northern Ireland company subsequently moved to the forefront of flexitarianism.
In addition to these products, he demonstrated great social conscience by developing the Good Little Company to raise funds for projects in Africa in partnership with Mulanje Mission Hospital and Ripple Africa, both based in Malawi. This involved dedicating 50 percent of the profits annually, raising almost £1million to fight poverty there and empower these communities to enable them to achieve a sustainable future.
In 2017, Denis launched Naked Bacon, a revolutionarybacon made without artificial nitrates and other ‘nasties’, which will be remembered as one of his most successful and enduring innovations.
The bacon, quickly followed by ham, sausages andcooked ham won the business international acclaim and also raised the profile substantially of innovation within the local food industry. Supermarkets and other grocery retailers throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland reacted enthusiastically to the product range and were all quick to add it to their listings. He also supported theplant-based Naked range by substantial investment in processing, marketing and new product innovation in other plant foods.
He was to go on to invest further in plant-based foods by developing Europe’s biggest processing and most technology advanced operation for such innovative original products that also featured fresh marketing techniques for Naked without the Moo beef burgers, Naked without the Oink sausages, Naked without the Cluck chicken pieces and Naked without the Splash fish and chips. He completed the £25 million factory last year.
Whether through planting 6,000 native trees to promote biodiversity on its factory sites or through guaranteeing a fair price to farmers, the company demonstrated the commitment to protect farming for the future and the overall environment. An investment in technology enabled him to achieve an environment in which people would enjoy working. Over 1,000 people are currently employed at the three plants he developed near Downpatrick.
Only last November we reported that Denis was recognized as entrepreneur of the year at the UK Gold Grocer awards. Our thoughts go out to his wife Christine, his daughters and family circle.