The company is looking for investment to launch a range of premium Scottish ready meals

Scottish premium soup and shellfish producer The Hebridean Food Co is seeking crowdfunded cash to branch out into the high-end ready meals market.

The company is looking to raise £200k on Crowdcube in exchange for a 10.35% stake, valuing the brand at £1.7m.

It plans to use the cash raised for equipment purchases to scale up production and to cover marketing costs associated with the upcoming launch of a range of premium ready meals, after securing an agreement with Lidl to stock the products in its Scottish stores from January.

The business said it was also in “advanced talks” with other retailers to secure listings for the meals, which will include a number of traditional dishes with a “home-style cooking” feel.

“The most important thing for us is the story behind the food, the key local ingredients, their quality and origin,” said founder Douglas Stewart.

“As a core range, we wanted the ready meals to speak about who we are so, where we can, we want them to be as Scottish as possible,” he added. “That’s where we have had success with the supermarkets.”

Additional funding would be used to extend the brand’s fresh soup range - currently available in Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl - after signing an own-label deal with a “major supermarket” to provide 500k units of soup per year from September.

Discussions are ongoing with other three UK supermarkets to secure listings of both own-label and branded soups.

As it “grows with its current retailers”, the Scotland-focused company is also eyeing nationwide rollout to fulfil its mission of bringing “local premium Scottish food” to supermarket shelves across the UK.

“Although the Scottish angle has been our unique selling point to date we would like to take that further into the UK market to offer ‘home comfort’ to ex-pats or people that love Scotland,” Stewart added. “The ambition is to become the home of premium luxury Scottish products.”

The Hebridean Food Co claims to have grown turnover by 172% in the past year, with revenues of £273k in the 12 months to April 2019. It forecasts sales of £1.4m by the end of FY2020, having already secured 60% of its target to date.

By 2022, the business expects to have grown sales to £2.7m, through a combination of fresh soups and ready meals sales.

“I’d like to think that we are quite conservative with our growth estimates,” Stewart said.

“We are already suppliers to a lot of the supermarkets in Scotland, so it will hopefully be a quick process to get listings and achieve those sales targets.”

The latest funding push follows a Crowdcube raise in 2016, with the company securing over £160k from a pool of more than 300 investors.