Isle of Man Meats has paid tribute to outgoing Tesco Douglas store manager Neil Connell, describing him as an ‘unsung hero of local produce’ for his efforts to bring Manx produce to the shelves of the island’s largest supermarket .
Neil is set to retire shortly after four and a half years at the helm of the Douglas store, capping a successful four-decade career with the multinational retailer.
His time at the store saw a marked increase in the promotion and availability of local produce, including the creation of a section dedicated to Isle of Man meats.
Neil explained the importance of widening access to quality Manx produce at Tesco, in particular award-winning beef and lamb from Isle of Man Meats:
‘It’s local. It supports farmers. He supports the island. It’s obvious.
“He also supports our store. If the ferry is not running, it means we have a strong and secure supply of excellent quality local produce available to our customers.
“I was lucky enough to work in Shetland for three and a half years.
“I am of Scottish origin, a mountain dweller, so I am used to this kind of environment.
“When you’re on an island, whether here or off the coast of Scotland, you have a community tied to that rock that you live on. Everyone depends on each other.
“It is important that big companies like Tesco recognize this, and we fully understand our responsibility to the communities of which we are a part.
“This is where local support is vital – whether that’s employing over 300 people locally or stocking shelves with great Manx produce.
“I’ve been proud to champion local growers and help open discussions with our buyers in the UK, who ultimately have the final say.
“For me now it’s back to my highland home to be closer to my family. I will miss this wonderful island and the amazing people.
Isle of Man Meats Plant Manager Phil Parsons said:
“I don’t think we would be where we are now without Neil’s attitude and commitment to Isle of Man Meats, our producers and consumers across the island.
“He has helped give our products the prominence they have at Tesco.
“It is through his continued efforts that we have been able to offer our customers a greater choice of fantastic meats, bringing with it all the benefits of choosing Manx, from reducing environmental impact to helping our farmers local.
“Neil is an unsung hero of local produce and all of us at Isle of Man Meats cannot thank him enough for his support. We look forward to continuing to work with his successor to further develop this important relationship.