Ella's Kitchen - Eat Play Love Parliamentary event2[33]

Ella’s CEO Mark Cuddigan said consumers engaged more with the brand because of its good causes, such as 2022’s ‘Eat. Play. Love’ campaign

Ella’s Kitchen has posted double-digit growth for the first time in five years, thanks to a post-Covid bounceback in the babyfood market.

Revenues soared 17.9% to £85.8m in the year ended 30 June 2022, according to newly filed accounts.

It marked the 16th consecutive year of profitable sales growth at the brand as it expanded distribution with larger customers and made further market share gains at the expense of Danone’s Cow & Gate range.

It is the first time growth at Ella’s has hit double figures since 2016/17.

Sales in the UK rose 16.4% to £68.6m in the year, while international jumped 24.4% to £17.2m (excluding the US and Canadian markets included in parent Hain Celestial’s figures).

The revenue rise pushed operating profits 16.4% higher to £14.3m – while currency tailwinds also helped reduce the cost of goods.

Meanwhile, the brand’s pre-tax profits climbed 20.9% to £15m.

CEO Mark Cuddigan hailed the results as “outstanding” against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.

The rollout of NPD across all the brand’s subcategories in the domestic market and overseas saw Ella’s win further retail distribution, he told The Grocer.

“The brand is one of the most popular in the UK and generates a lot of love with consumers,” Cuddigan added. “As a B-Corp, we do not judge the performance on financial results alone, and I am extremely proud we continue to make business a force for good while being a voice for the under-fives.”

During 2022, Ella’s launched the ‘Eat. Play. Love’ campaign, calling on the government to improve early years food education to support childhood nutrition. The business also donated more than 600,000 pouches to food banks across the UK in the year and re-established the Ella’s Explorers initiative to improve access to outdoor education.

“This is the sort of stuff that drives engagement and love with consumers, which drives our rate of sale and enables us to launch more SKUs,” Cuddigan said.

Ella’s delivered 12 years of double-digit revenue growth in a row up to the 2017/2018 financial period when sales increased 7.5%. It then managed growth of 4%, 0.5% and 1.6% in the next three years, with the pandemic slowing demand in the category.

The results follow reports elsewhere in The Grocer this week that Ella’s discontinued its range of frozen foods for children after less than five years on the market.