Business

Saturday 29 April 2017

Frozen food start-up to supply 200 Waitrose stores in UK

Dubliner Samuel Dennigan, founder of the Strong Roots food company, has struck a lucrative deal to supply Waitrose stores in Britain
Dubliner Samuel Dennigan, founder of the Strong Roots food company, has struck a lucrative deal to supply Waitrose stores in Britain

Simon Rowe

Irish frozen food firm Strong Roots has secured a deal to supply 200 Waitrose stores in the UK.

Strong Roots is targeting company revenues of €3m in 2017 on foot of the deal, with industry sources predicting that figure could triple if the frozen food brand is successful and more product lines are rolled out across all of Waitrose's 350 UK outlets.

Backed by a €1m marketing spend, Strong Roots aims to shake up the frozen food sector with healthy convenient options.

The company's products are already stocked in 1,000 retail outlets in Ireland including Dunnes, Tesco, Supervalu and Centra.

Its two product lines of Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Kale and Quinoa Burgers sell about 2.5 million packs a year.

The firm plans to introduce eight new products in 2017.

The brand is already listed in nine Whole Foods stores in the UK and is one of their top frozen sellers.

Launched in 2015 by Samuel Dennigan, Strong Roots offers "healthy, tasty, premium alternatives to the 'same old same old' frozen food options usually found in the freezer section."

Speaking about the Waitrose deal, Dennigan said: "Waitrose is an ideal launch partner for us as we build our presence in the UK market. Our association with Waitrose, in addition to our existing partnership with Whole Foods, reinforces our visibility as a premium proposition. We see major potential for significant growth in this category, both in the UK and other markets.

"We will invest over €1m into a UK marketing campaign which includes a strong focus on digital and experiential activity throughout 2017 and 2018.

"Our research shows that shoppers browse the frozen aisle differently to other areas of the store and are unlikely to open a freezer unless they have already decided to buy the product, so promoting ahead of this key decision through a combination of advertising and innovation is key."

Strong Roots invested about €500,000 in brand marketing and advertising last year in Ireland.

Dennigan, who is a member of one of Ireland's major family-owned fresh produce vegetable distributors, intends developing Strong Roots internationally.

Having worked for the family firm for 10 years before striking out on his own, Samuel gained experience across all parts of the business, from the fruit market pitch on Mary's Lane to procurement and eventually to sales and marketing, where he managed several vegetable brands.

"Our brand Strong Roots has grown a cult following in Ireland, particularly with millennials and Ireland's 'FitFam' community who prioritise a healthy lifestyle and convenience," he said.

"We're a new start-up food company bringing frozen food back from the dead. We want to revolutionise the concept of frozen food."

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