Winner: Charlie Bigham

A true revolutionary, Charlie Bigham has come a long way since dreaming up the idea of a high-end ready meals brand while travelling the world in a camper van back in 1994.

After developing a handful of travel-inspired recipes, Bigham launched his eponymous brand in Waitrose in 1996. Listings with retailers including Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Booths soon followed.

Thanks to its focus on top-quality ingredients and a home- cooked taste, the business has run circles around its ready meal rivals ever since.

Today, Bigham’s offers more than 70 meal options from fish pies to curries, as well as pies, sides and a range of puddings. It employs around 700 staff and serves more than 2.5 million consumers a year.

A real turning point came during the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Bigham’s revenues topped £100m for the first time as a legion of new fans treated themselves to a night off from cooking.

That momentum has continued ever since. Sales soared a further 16% to £121m in the year to 31 August 2022, as the business continued to expand distribution and an ad campaign featuring Bigham himself attracted even more shoppers.

This is despite the brand’s premium price tag. It’s proof that even during the cost of living crisis, consumers are stocking up on higher-quality meals – and Bigham’s is well positioned as an alternative to the more expensive option of dining out in a restaurant.

Indeed, Charlie Bigham’s supplanted Rustlers as the new king of the chilled ready meals category last year, knocking the microwaveable burger brand off the top spot for the first time in at least eight years, according to The Grocer Top Products Survey 2022. Bigham’s outsold the former category number one by as much as £43.5m, according to the figures from NIQ.

Bigham’s also hit the acquisition trail in 2022, snapping up fellow premium meals provider ByRuby to gain access to the DTC channel.

Judges were bowled over by Bigham’s “very impressive” achievements in 2022.

“Every other meal brand has struggled to keep up the huge upsurge in growth during the Covid years,” one Gold Awards judge remarked.

“Yet Bigham’s has managed to kick on yet again.”

A second judge added: “It just speaks volumes for the product and the brand.

“Consumers have remained incredibly loyal even though lifestyle and occasions have moved away from the category since the end of the pandemic, not to mention the cost of living crisis putting pressure on household finances.”

Another judge said: “Its success speaks to the absolute quality of the product, and it has impressive sustainability credentials as well.

“The growth achieved by Charlie and his team isn’t simply down to continually widening distribution or discounting,” they summed up. “The brand has real shopper appeal and has been marketed in some really nice ways.”


  • Charlie Bigham, Bigham’s
  • Gaz Booth & Tom Walker, Holy Moly
  • Nicci Clark, Re:Nourish
  • Peter McBride, McBride Retail Group
  • Sean Ramsden MBE, Ramsden International
  • Pete Sharman & Andy Shovel, This
  • Barty Walsh, Ordo

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