Quorn Foods Ltd poised for further growth, despite losses

Vegetarian food firm enjoys sales growth with new products, moves into international markets and increasingly health-conscious consumers

Quorn
Quorn

The Stokesley-based Quorn Foods Ltd says it is well-placed to thrive in a challenging global market, despite reporting widening pre-tax losses.

Financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2013, show losses rose from around £13.5m the previous year to roughly £14.3m.

Chief executive Kevin Brennan, however, said this was the inevitable result of the debt and equity investment involved in taking over the company from Premier Foods several years ago.

Turnover, meanwhile, had risen from £132m in 2012 to £141m, with 2013 seeing record sales growth, investment in marketing and facilities and a significant strengthening of international trade.

Simon Dewhurst Photography Kevin Brennan, Chief Executive of Quorn Foods
Kevin Brennan, Chief Executive of Quorn Foods
 

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve turned a corner,” Mr Brennan said. “A lot of work had been done in previous years and we are now seeing the benefit of that.

“We are as well positioned as anyone in the food industry to have a great run for many, many years, although we won’t be complacent - we will keep investing and making better products.”

During the years, Quorn Foods - which also has sites in Middlesbrough and Norfolk - invested significantly in its UK business, helping drive a 7% sales growth through its marketing activities. It likewise achieved distribution gains across a number of customers.

Internationally, meanwhile, it moved into new markets, such as South Africa, where the company believes it will see significant market growth.

In Sweden, likewise, it has benefited from a partnership with Findus, seeing a 25% sale growth within two years.

During 2013, two million new households purchased Quorn products, as the brand is becoming increasingly popular with non-vegetarian customers, seeking a healthier alternative to meat.

Mo Farah
Mo Farah
 

Building on such shifting perceptions, the business launched a £6m campaign in January, headed by double Olympic champion Mo Farah.

“It has been the most effective campaign we have ever run,” Brennan said.

In the North East, Quorn - which grows and harvests by fermentation its own core ingredient, a naturally occurring plant protein - is currently creating a third fermenter at its production plant in Middlesbrough.

Once complete in around a year’s time, this will boost capacity by 50% and create approximately 400 new jobs.

“In most of the countries we operate in, food is not a growing area,” Mr Brennan said. “So we need to go out and earn the business - to keep investing and to take risks. Launching is new markets is a risky thing to do, but we’ve got a belief in what we’re doing.

“Investing in the third fermenter shows we are not going anywhere. Keeping jobs in the area is just as important as adding them and we are proud that we can employ and give security to lots people here. They are doing a great job.”

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