Tyrrells is to ramp up its distribution through the multiples -and may even seek listings in Tesco - in an attempt to double sales in the next few years.
In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, new owner private equity firm Langholm Capital said that it hoped to "do a Dorset Cereals" with Tyrrells, which it bought last week for close to £40m.
"Tyrrells is not well distributed with sales mainly through delis and farm stores," said Langholm principal Oliver Wyncoll. "We can pick and choose in what sequence we increase that and we plan to make it widely available through the independents and multiples as well as exports."
Although Wyncoll would not single out Tesco as a potential stockist, he said greater capacity would enable wider roll-out beyond Sainsbury's and Waitrose. "The reason it didn't want to be in Tesco was that it wasn't ready," he said. "We will invest in production capacity so it can fulfil distribution."
If it did secure a listing in Tesco, it would be a remarkable u-turn for the company. In 2006, founder Will Chase famously pulled the brand out of Tesco when he discovered it was sourcing products from the grey market.
Wyncoll said the £13m-turnover company was poised for strong growth. The analogy with Dorset Cereals, which Langholm sold to Wellness Foods for close to £50m in March, was striking, he said, adding that Langholm hoped to achieve the same growth as with Dorset. The cereal brand increased sales by 50% in one year from £13m to more than £20m between 2006 and 2007, and delivered a four-fold ROI.
Langholm would significantly invest in facilities, in line with the £3m it ploughed into Dorset, he said. Innovation would focus on new vegetable crisp varieties. Building awareness of the brand would be key. As with Dorset, it would focus on "communicating the brand story" at food festivals and by word of mouth.
However, no packaging overhaul was planned. "With Dorset, a brand had to be created. Tyrrells is probably 18 months ahead of that."