Ella’s Kitchen marked 17 years of consecutive profitable sales growth in 2023

Ella’s Kitchen has seen its market share eroded as parents switched to cheaper own-label babyfood amid price sensitivity in the category.

The brand’s share of total ambient babyfood (which includes wet and snacking products) in the 52 weeks ended 8 July 2023 declined by 0.9 percentage points to 31.2%, while in wet babyfood it fell by 1.1 percentage points, according to newly filed accounts at Companies House.

Ella’s, which remains the market leader by a considerable distance, attributed the downturn to lost distribution and shoppers turning to private label.

Revenue growth in the financial year to 30 June 2024 also slowed significantly, rising just 1.8% to £87.3m.

It marks the 17th consecutive year of profitable sales growth at the business, but the figure is down from an 18% increase in FY2021/22.

Sales in the UK rose 2.4% to £70.2m in the year, while international sales (excluding North American markets, which are included in parent Hain Celestial’s published results) fell 0.5% £17.1m.

Operating profits at the company climbed 2.9% to £14.8m as Ella’s offset input cost inflation by focusing on efficiencies in marketing and fixed costs.

Hain Celestial CEO Wendy Davidson said: “We’re pleased that Ella’s Kitchen has delivered another year of profitable growth, despite a challenging economic environment.

“As the UK’s largest baby and kids’ food brand, Ella’s improved revenue across the 2023 financial year is a testament to the brand’s ability to adapt and innovate.”

She added that the brand had introduced a 3+ snack range to the UK baby aisle, making ‘better for you’ more attainable for families.

Ella’s was hit by significant disruption to the management team in 2023 as the business lost more than 50 years of senior experience in the space of just a few months. Long-serving CEO Mark Cuddigan left in September, while his replacement Will Howard followed in January this year. Finance director James Waters, operations director Nella Jansson-Wright and HR director Catherine Allen also left.

The changes followed Hain introducing a group-wide global restructuring strategy.

Tim Collins, vice president and general manager for Hain Celestial baby & kids and meal preparation in North America, took over as the new MD at Ella’s this year.

Davidson said the group was “proud” of the progress Ella’s had made in 2023 to create “a positive impact for people, communities and the planet”.

“In fiscal year 2023, Ella’s donated over 600,000 products to food banks and charity partners in the UK; launched a national campaign that delivered free sensory food play lessons to children across the UK; announced partnerships with Action for Children and the RSPB to tackle childhood poverty and the climate crisis; and launched its new Five for the under-5s campaign, which asks every political party in the UK to put little futures first.”