Little Moons

Vivien and Howard Wong launched Little Moons in 2010

Little Moons has parted company with CEO Mike Hedges after only two years, with co-founder Vivien Wong taking charge while a replacement is sought, The Grocer can reveal.

It comes as the mochi ice cream sensation is exploring consolidating its manufacturing footprint and potentially closing two factories, creating uncertainty for hundreds of employees.

Hedges, who has 30 years of experience in the fmcg industry, was hired in April 2022 with the task of leading the next stage of growth at the business following the sale of a significant minority stake to PE firm L Catterton.

International general manager Thomas Bayel, who joined at the same time as Hedges, is also leaving the company in the coming months.

Little Moons told The Grocer Hedges had led the brand through “a transformative period” and, alongside Bayel, had overseen rapid international growth across Europe and the rest of the world.

Wong, who launched Little Moons alongside her brother Howard in 2010, will take on the role of interim CEO. She will be supported by executive chairman Flor Healy, who joined last year, with a recruitment process to replace Hedges underway.

“We’d like to thank Mike for overseeing Little Moons’ growth over the last couple of years, and Thomas for his leadership of our international rollout, and we wish them both the very best for the future,” Wong said.

The Grocer also learned Little Moons has started a consultation process with an unconfirmed number of employees as the business reviews the possibility of consolidating its manufacturing operations into the new 50,000 sq ft facility in Kettering scheduled to open in the first half of 2024.

The move brings uncertainty to the teams based at the two London sites at Park Royal and Wembley.

“As Little Moons continues its growth, revenue has increased dramatically in the last three years and so the business has had to make plans to ensure it has a future-fit production footprint,” said marketing director Ross Farquhar.

“Based on the capacity of [the Kettering] site, and likely production requirements over the next three to five years globally, the business is undertaking a review of its footprint and exploring the viability of consolidating its operations currently in Park Royal into the new facility.

“Staff affected by the proposal have been informed and are being formally consulted before any final decision is taken. We’re being open with our colleagues, involving them as early as possible in the process and are committed to reaching a conclusion quickly, consulting appropriately and above all treating our colleagues with integrity.”

Little Moons employs about 350 staff, including more than 250 in the factories. The Grocer understands the business is exploring all options, including possible relocation to the new facility in Kettering.

The 30,000 sq ft factory in Park Royal opened in January 2020 and added to the smaller site at Wembley, giving the business capacity to produce more than 70 million mochi balls a year.

Growth at the company exploded a year after moving to the new factory, after a TikTok video went viral. It was viewed by hundreds of millions of people on social media, with sales surging 700% at Tesco as a result.

It led to one of the most hotly contested auctions in the industry for a number of years, as a handful of private equity firms battled to invest in the brand, as revealed at the time by The Grocer. A deal for a minority holding by L Catterton valued the business at upwards of £100m, with the sibling founders retaining a controlling stake.

Revenues at Little Moons more than doubled in 2022 to in excess of £60m – according to the most recent set of accounts at Companies House – as international sales soared to make up almost 50% of the business.

In September last year, the company revealed plans for the new state-of-the-art factory in Kettering to help it keep up with booming demand.

Howard and Vivien Wong won the Entrepreneur of the Year prize at the 2022 Grocer Gold Awards and Little Moons was also named Exporter of the Year at the 2023 Gold Awards.