Not content with an ever-increasing presence in the mults, Stewed! MD Alan Rosenthal is taking the range into the UK’s train stations

Alan Rosenthal’s Le Creuset pot has certainly seen some action. It’s been the birthplace of his six-strong range of one-pot grab-and-go stews, which have gradually won shelf space at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Budgens over the past four years.

Now, with turnover on course to hit £750,000 in 2012 (up from £331,079 in 2010) and Rosenthal targeting volume sales of a million units next year, he is in talks with Tesco about bringing his Stewed! range, which includes such delights as Thai Green Chicken and British Beef in Ale (selling for between £3.49 and £3.79 for a 325g pot), to its shelves.

That’s not all. Rosenthal is now taking the rather unusual step of setting up as a retailer in his own right, with his first outlet, a kiosk at Reading train station, in March. But why take on the expense and early mornings of selling your own products when the supermarkets seem to be doing such a good job of it themselves?

It’s all about the brand, says Rosenthal.And being slap bang in the middle of some of Britain’s busiest train stations (he’s already planning another opening in South London) will help build recognition of the brand and give him the chance to try out new recipes - for breakfast, lunch and dinner - on passing punters.

“It’s another brand avenue,” he says. “It’s another opportunity for more revenue. There’s a captive market in the stations. The revenue from the kiosk could be bigger than from retail stores [breakfast pots will start at £2 a pot, lunch and dinner pots, £3.95]. And it’s an advert every day. It’s also about building brand awareness.”

Brand building is something he’s been doing ever since he first turned his North London kitchen into a mini factory and began selling his stews - all cooked in the trusty old Le Creuset - at Alexandra Palace farmers’ market in 2008. But Rosenthal wanted greater exposure. “A lot of people aspire to create a food product for the supermarkets. Not that many succeed,” he says. “When I started, people said: ‘you’ll never get a brand in the ready meals aisle in the supermarkets’.”

He proved them wrong, of course. Armed with experience as a buyer for WHSmith and later Woolworths as well as his skills as a chef (learned at renowned cookery school Leiths), Rosenthal approached the multiples.

The strength of the Stewed! brand - reinforced by his Stewed! cookbook, now in its third print run - soon won him listings and production was outsourced (although, keeping true to Rosenthal’s foodie credentials, each stew is still made in just one pot).

“To get into the supermarkets you need a strong brand because the category is so dominated by own brand. Ours taste better than others out there. It’s very difficult when you have own-brand pots next to yours, but even in own brand there’s nothing like a Stewed! pot. Nothing’s as chunky and authentic as us,” he says.

Rosenthal is looking to build on these chunky credentials, with plans for ‘multiple units’ at train stations and four new additions - two meat and two vegetarian - to the Stewed! range later this year. Talks are also ongoing with a host of major retailers.

Whatever the outcome of these, Rosenthal’s Le Creuset pot - still the birthplace of each new Stewed! creation - looks set for a great deal more action.