minor figures oat milk

Minor Figures also makes cold brewed coffee as well as its core oat milk range

Losses have widened substantially at Minor Figures, but the oat milk challenger has said it is on the path to profitability after shifting focus away from Asia to growth markets in the UK and North America.

Newly filed accounts for the year ended 30 June 2023 revealed pre-tax losses increased 39% to £9.9m as the business was hit by a downturn in fortunes in the Asia-Pacific region and also saw margins squeezed by ongoing inflationary pressures.

It takes cumulative losses at the business to more than £20m in the past three financial years.

Minor Figures CEO and co-founder Stuart Forsyth attributed the challenges in 2023 to a downturn in China – which also led to market leader Oatly implementing a major restructuring plan last year. Like Oatly, the business made a big bet on continued booming demand for oat milk in Asia, which has not materialised post-Covid.

Forsyth told The Grocer the mistiming of deploying a significant amount of capital in the region “massively” amplified losses in the past financial year.

Sales in Asia-Pacific slumped 35% to £5.9m, according to the new Companies House accounts. Overall group revenues increased 8.8% to £31.8m as 12% growth in UK sales to £13.4m and a 54% jump in the North American top line to £12.5m offset the difficulties in Asia.

A restructuring at the group – which also resulted in one-off costs in 2022/23 of £1.5m as Minor Figures discontinued product lines and wrote off a large amount of stock – had addressed the challenges, the accounts said.

“We responded immediately by reshaping our cost base and refocusing our efforts on increasing product margin,” Forsyth added. “Our efforts have taken time, but resulted in a return to solid margins, and a leaner, more focused business, which is now in a much stronger position.”

He said results for the current year 2023/24 financial were showing “a remarkable improvement”, with strong double-digit growth and a significant reduction in losses, setting the business up for profitability next year.

“Our growth has continued this year with the EMEA business continuing to outperform in its category and the North American business growth above 38%, with notable wins in some of the biggest retailers, including Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, Albertsons and, recently, Kroger. All of this is set against the wider context of the Asia-Pacific region now beginning to stabilise post-Covid.”

Forsyth added the business was set to announce further innovation plans in retail and the on-trade later in 2024.

Minor Figures started as a coffee company making cold brews in 2014 before a brand refresh in 2018 moved the business in plant-based dairy alternatives.

The company has raised more than £30m in investment across several rounds, with Danone’s venture capitalist arm taking a stake in 2022. The new accounts revealed Minor Figures also completed a new fundraise in June 2023.

Forsyth said: “2023 is a follow-on investment from the current investor base. They were confident in our commitment and vast improvements made to business, and were able to provide further capital.”