The Primal Pantry has secured a substantial six-figure investment from three food industry heavyweights to fuel rapid growth at the snack bar brand, The Grocer can reveal.

Mark Palmer, Jeff van der Eems and former Cadbury chief strategy director Mark Reckitt have all taken minority stakes in the business as founder Suzie Walker sought an added-value investment rather than raising cash from the crowd or private equity.

Palmer, who stepped down as marketing director at Pret A Manger in September, was part of the management team at Green & Black’s which sold the organic chocolate brand to Cadbury in 2005 for £20m, as well as a co-founder at Cawston Press.

He joins the Primal Pantry board as chairman, alongside former United Biscuits CEO van der Eems.

“I have been hugely impressed by the early progress that The Primal Pantry has made,” Palmer said. “The products are exceptional and the business is well placed to grow as customers continue to turn to premium healthy snacks.”

Specialist investment bank Stamford Partners advised Primal Pantry on the capital raising, first revealed by The Grocer last month (October).

Walker, who launched Primal Pantry in early 2014 with an investment of £16k, will continue to run the paleo diet brand with business partner Dominic Maxwell.

Retail sales are on track to hit £4.5m by end of the year, after soaring from £450k in its first year to £1.4m in 2015 on the back of growing consumer appetite for healthy snacks.

The paleo bars are sold in Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s nationwide and in 26 countries overseas – with exports already making up a third of the business.

The money raised, understood to be close to £1m, is the second infusion of capital for the company after an £150k angel investment in 2015, It will be used for NPD into new categories and fund growth in the UK, as well as export markets.

van der Eems, who has also held leadership positions at PepsiCo, oversaw the £2bn sale of McVitie’s maker United Biscuits to Turkish group Yildiz in 2014.

He would bring broader snacking, corporate, international development and M&A experience to Primal Pantry, he said.

“I am very pleased to join Suzie and the team at The Primal Pantry,” he added. “Their products are perfectly positioned to benefit from the growing consumer desire for natural, good-tasting products. With the team we have assembled, I believe we have a very exciting future.”

Walker, an alumnus of The Grocer’s 2015 Top New Talent in 2015, has reinvested all profits generated by the business so far back into its growth.

“We are so excited to welcome such high calibre talent to our board and see this investment as a very significant and strategic step in the future growth and success of our business,” she said.