aunt bessies

Sales: £160.3m (-14.1%)

Trading has been tough for Aunt Bessie’s. The brand, owned by William Jackson Food Group, lost £26.4m as it struggles to make gains in the declining frozen food market. A sizeable chunk of this loss came from its frozen potatoes, a market in which rival McCain (11) stormed ahead - sales were up £4.2m.

“Frozen still has a negative perception for some consumers though we believe this can be tackled by a number of means including strong NPD,” says a spokeswoman.

For Auntie this included ‘Special Recipe’ premium lines Chunky Chips coated in beef dripping and King Edward roast potatoes, as well as Homestyle Wedges and sweet potato mash. The new products, claims the brand, are performing well. Special Recipe Yorkshire puddings, meat and family-size pies also joined the frozen range.

Away from the frosty aisles, Aunt Bessie’s expanded into ambient cake for the first time with a nine-strong range of tarts, loafs cakes and sharing cakes. The brand went big on advertising as well, with sponsorship of two major ITV shows - Downton Abbey and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! It splashed out £6m to sponsor the hit reality TV series, which saw nosey neighbours Margaret and Mabel spying on the celebrities in the Australian jungle.

“I’m A Celebrity… is a key marketing initiative for the brand over the next 12 months. This sponsorship will see our adverts being seen by over 32 million people,” adds the spokeswoman. “We also have a huge on-pack promotion, which is featuring on over 30 million packs.”