Tuesday 10 December 2019

Keelings goes organic in terms of growth strategy as convenience rules

Caroline Keeling wants to see innovation in Keelings' packaging, with families in mind
Caroline Keeling wants to see innovation in Keelings' packaging, with families in mind
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Fruit and vegetable company Keelings is going organic for its growth strategy.

Chief executive Caroline Keeling told the Sunday Independent that the family-owned business wants to help people consume their five-a-day without it "being a chore or a huge challenge".

"One of the things that we're trying to do is innovate in how we package the product for consumers - things like snack-pots, because I'm probably not the only one who needs to snack on the move," she said.

"We've really worked on developing them for families. I think we're launching now a four-pack to enable people to get a little bit of economy of scale in there, but to have it in a convenient format".

Asked if the company would consider an IPO, a significant fundraising or acquisitions, Keeling said: "Probably more organic growth within our categories but we also have a software business. On the funding side of it, we are a family business, it's 100pc family-owned and currently we're happy with that. We're all fairly aligned in what we want to do, we believe very strongly in our products and driving the quality of our products and hoping that consumers will reward us with increased sales."

The software business is based on licensing software Keelings developed for managing a produce-style business to other companies.

It's an unlimited company and doesn't disclose profitability, but Keeling said that she hopes revenue this year would be in excess of €325m. About 65pc of its sales come from Ireland, with the UK and France the next-biggest markets.

"Competitiveness in our business is always a challenge, there's a number of competing products, and if you looked at produce, there isn't massive growth in consumption, unfortunately, of fruits and vegetables as an overall. But you can see very strong growth in berries. Since I think about 2009, berries has grown maybe 80pc in consumption... you would have seen grapes growing reasonably well also."

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