red lion foods tea

Red Lion Foods - the food brand that donates all post-tax profits to armed forces charities - insists it has a long-term future, despite its supermarket presence shrinking to just handful of SKUs in recent months.

The brand, founded by ex-John West marketing director Andrew Gidden in 2010 with the aim of donating £30m a year to charities, has financially backed a host of forces-linked good causes over the past five years and picked up listings across Waitrose, Tesco, Ocado, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s at the outset.

It targeted sales of £40m within its first year of trading, and £80m by May 2012, but now only sells a handful of tinned ready meal and corned beef SKUs through Waitrose and Ocado (compared to a portfolio of more than 50 grocery staples in 2011), having seen the last two of its once-extensive chilled meat lineup delisted by Tesco at the turn of the year. Activities had slowed over the past 12 months, admitted Ros Gidden, the brand’s spokeswoman and Andrew’s wife, “but our ambition is still to continue with the business. We are still committed to ensuring it works.”

She said Red Lion had so far raised over £1.7m for good causes, but the couple had had to focus on their other business, food supplier Argon, in recent months.

“We don’t take any salary out of Red Lion, and have had to focus on Argon as that’s what pays the bills, but our intention is to continue with the business, we’re not going to close it,” she said.

“We’re disappointed we don’t have more in the supermarkets, but we are at the mercy of the grocers in terms of price and that has also affected us,” Gidden added. “But we’re still battling, we have a contract to supply catering for performers at the Edinburgh Royal Tattoo for a third consecutive year this month, and hope to increase supermarket listings, particularly for fresh food, in the run up to Christmas.”