At Almondy, I created from scratch a UK food business with profitable turnover of £4 million per annum. I gained listings across all major UK and Irish retailers as well as establishing a thriving foodservice business supplying all major foodservice wholesalers.
Almondy was created by two young Swedes (Kent and Lennart) in 1982 when they bought the recipe for a delicious Gluten Free cake. The business grew steadily and by 2005 they were ready to move to bigger premises for the fourth time. They had a thriving business throughout Scandinavia and in Germany but the UK was a market that they had never managed to crack.
Andrew had worked for a lot of big food companies like Danone and Premier Foods but he had always wanted to take on a business Start Up so you could say that it was a marriage made in heaven. Start Ups require a very particular blend of management skills; it goes without saying that they are high pressure and hands on. Less well appreciated is the combination of making good strategic decisions but also being totally happy to be hands on. I was always totally happy to be the public of the company at trade and consumer shows.
The first job was to create a brand platform for Almondy. This strategic purpose of this was to help Almondy move from a strong Scandinavian base to a credible position as an aspiring pan European business. In practice it meant defining and documenting the market positioning for the first time and a full packaging redesign using a London based agency.
A key part of getting Almondy Gluten Free cakes known in the UK was sampling. We sampled around 200,000 people at a combination of consumer and trade shows during 2006 and 2007. Frozen food can be seen as something of a sterile product environment and we moved away from this using striking visual images and also high energy performance of ABBA music. Our aim was to create a sense of joy and happiness around our product.
Obtaining listings across UK retail requires a blend of both sophistication and determination but large UK retailers recognised that Almondy Gluten Free cakes would bring life to the frozen desserts category which was declining at the time. Distribution grew to over 5,000 distribution points across all major UK retailers: Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose. Almondy was the fastest growing frozen desserts brand in the UK between 2011 and 2015
Almondy has always recognised that a strong foodservice business is an essential part of the mix and the UK was no different. We joined forces with Central Foods; a specialist frozen food distributor to the foodservice sector and gained distribution to all key UK wholesalers including Bidfood and Brakes. We also worked closely with key end users in our product sector; department stores (Debenhams), pub groups (Punch Taverns) and garden centres (Wyevale and Dobbies).
None of this happens without a business structure to support the sales and marketing operation. I was also responsible for creating the physical infrastructure to supply Almondy cakes into the UK. We used XPO as our warehouse and transport logistics partner and Goodwille as our finance and administration partner.