Nestle Thaw & Serve Launch Range

Nestlé UK

Sales: £1.93bn (+13.5%)

Operating margin: 6.7% (+0.6ppts)

The world’s largest food group grew its UK business last year as booming coffee sales were bolstered by a return of out-of-home consumption. Nespresso was the star performer, with sales up 7% as it capitalised on the boom in home working along with its strong brand positioning and promotion. But it also continued to make strategic acquisitions to accelerate growth in the country, including fast-growing recipe kits business SimplyCook and petfood brand Lily’s Kitchen.



Ferrero Kinder Easter range

Sales: £450m (+10.6%)

Operating margin: 3.1% (+0.8ppts)

Having invested heavily in the UK in recent years, Ferrero posted its second consecutive year of strong growth despite tough conditions in impulse confectionery. It has improved its portfolio mix by moving away from less profitable retail stores to invest in grocery channel growth. UK investment has continued with the acquisition and pulling together of Fox’s and Burton’s biscuits (not in these accounts).


Suntory Beverage and Food GBI

Sales: £445m (+15.9%)

Operating margin: 20.6% (–0.1ppts)

After a tough Covid period where sales fell back 9.5%, the Lucozade and Ribena supplier capitalised on the rebound in post-pandemic soft drinks consumption with a focus on NPD, including the caffeinated Lucozade Alert Range, as well as new formats – including 1.5-litre Lucozade bottles and 12-packs of cans – backed by strong out-of-home marketing spend.


Direct Produce Supplies

Sales: £355m (+22.6%)

Operating margin: 1.4% (–0.1ppts)

Growing sequentially from just £80m of sales in 2016 to £335m last year, the supplier has enjoyed average annual growth of almost 35% and continued this trajectory uninterrupted by Covid. Sales were up 22% last year as it drove revenue growth through pioneering vertically farmed strawberries for Tesco. The group’s EBITDA has grown slower than its top line, but still rose from £4.3m to £5.1m last year.


Charlie Bigham's Smoked Haddock Gratin

Charlie Bigham’s

Sales: £104m (+29.6%)

Operating margin: 8.2% (+0.4ppts)

The premium ready meals player bucked the category trend in 2020 with growth of 16%, and sales accelerated still further last year, up almost 30%. The supplier has benefited from strong brand positioning in an own-label driven category. NPD, including the launch of new portion-for-one lines, has been crucial, supported by a £3m TV ad campaign featuring Richard Osman. It recently bought frozen brand ByRuby to support sales via a dedicated DTC channel and access to new frozen category sales.

The Big Squeeze: OC&C 150 supplier rankings 2022