Sausage brand Heck enjoyed an 11.7% increase in sales last year, on the back of product innovation and an increase in supermarket distribution, latest accounts have shown.
The Yorkshire-based business saw sales grow by £2.5m to £23.6m for the 12 months to 31 July 2019. However, pre-tax profits fell by 22.7%, from £828,260 to £640,401, and gross margins fell from 27% to 24% as Heck invested in R&D, automation and freezing capacity.
The continued growth of the business - which now has listings across the big four supermarkets - also meant Heck’s administrative costs had risen from £4m to £4.4m last year.
In the period following its year-end, the business had also faced a number of challenges to continue production through the coronavirus crisis. These included introducing social distancing in its factory and managing key workers and critical technical people in self isolation.
The supplier also phased out its Harrogate Sausage Co brand last year, added founder Andrew Keeble, as it focused on its core businesses in fresh pork and chicken sausages, plant-based meat alternatives and frozen sausages.
Keeble told The Grocer the brand was on track to turn over close to £50m during the 2020 calendar year, buoyed by strong sales from its new frozen range, which had secured listings in both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose over the past month and offered shoppers a “premium” option in the freezer aisle.
“That investment in freezing capacity in particular means we’re in really good shape. We’re in all the retailers and are operating across all three categories,” he said.
“We see a huge opportunity in frozen food because we can deliver on many levels, creating a premium sausage category designed for people who want to reduce their environmental impact and also cut down on food waste and packaging”, added Heck co-founder Jamie Keeble.
“We predict our frozen range will be around 30% of our business in 2020.”