Aldi's Next Big Thing: TV show win for Syrian refugees behind Sowerby Bridge cheese firm

The couple wowed the judges with their 'Hello Mi Rolls' Credit: 'Aldi's Next Big Thing' - Channel 4

Refugees who founded a cheese business in West Yorkshire after fleeing war-torn Syria have won a contract to get their product onto the shelves of one of the UK's biggest supermarkets.

Razan Alsous and her husband Raghid Sandouk left Syria with their three children 12 years ago, before building their business Yorkshire Dama Cheese in Halifax from scratch.

The pair featured on Channel 4's Aldi's Next Big Thing – where small businesses get to pitch to the supermarket giant – capturing the hearts of the judges after sharing how they fled their home country in 2012.

The presentation secured them a contract to supply Aldi's 1,000 stores with their Hello-Mi-Rolls, a Syrian-style cheese made using British cow and goat's milk.

Ms Alsous, who studied medicine and pharmacy, told of how she was inspired to start her successful enterprise after she started searching for a job but was unable to find one because of her lack of references and work history in the UK.

Razan Alsous, said: “It wasn't an easy journey. We completely changed our professions when we came to the UK. We almost lost everything and had to settle into a new life with three young children.

"Eventually I thought, why not create a business and make Syrian cheese from fresh high-quality British milk? I had to use my scientific knowledge to make the product. Without our background we wouldn't be able to deliver it."

Hello Mi Rolls are halloumi wrapped in filo pastry Credit: Channel 4

The entrepreneurs secured an order to supply 40,000 Hello Mi Rolls, which are produced at their West Yorkshire factory.

Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi UK, said: "You can’t help but fall in love with Razan and Raghid. They’re taking locally sourced produce and making a wonderfully innovative product. I know it’s going to sell."

"It wasn't easy at all to be honest," Ms Alsous said.

"Julie is very honest and picky, and she knows what she wants. I think they found that the product is unique."

Raghid Sandouk, added: "The milk, the cheese, the entire product is all made on our premises in Sowerby Bridge. When we started it was just an idea to use our Syrian cheese with local products on a small scale but now we have this contract."

The Hello Mi Rolls are all individually rolled by hand Credit: Yorkshire Dama Cheese

Their products have also received a royal seal of approval in the past.

The Princess Royal was wowed by Yorkshire Dama Cheese in 2017 when she visited the factory in Sowerby Bridge.

The Hello Mi Rolls, which feature their Syrian inspired cheese coated in pastry, are rolled individually by hand.

They are available to buy in Aldi stores across the UK from today.

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