Fresh Italian food specialist Pasta Evangelists almost doubled revenues following its sale to Barilla, although it warned the DTC market has slowed in 2022.

The fresh pasta group’s first full accounts at Companies House showed revenues in the period to 31 December 2021 (a 351-day period) were up to £19.3m from the previous 266-day period to 14 January 2021, marking pro-rata growth of 86%.

While the Covid-driven boom in DTC sales supported growth, the group also benefited from strong growth in its takeaway business, which grew from eight to 19 sites, as well as retail partnerships with Harrods and Ocado.

CEO and co-founder Alessandro Savelli said the group had crucially increased brand awareness during Covid, which has supported the group after the wider DTC market dramatically slowed down this year.

“A lot of online UK food and consumer businesses have tanked in 2022, but our omnichannel approach has given us somewhat of a hedge against the decline in e-commerce,” he said.

He expects the group to grow by around 30% this year despite the decline in DTC revenues as it pivots towards takeaway and continues to grow grocery sales.

The group, bought by Italian food giant Barilla in early 2021, improved gross profit margins by 6% last year, but its operating los rose to £4.6m from £3.5m partly as a result of M&A costs.

Additionally, it continues to invest in growth via marketing and headcount, with its 100-strong staff rising to 280 so far since the Barilla deal.

Like all businesses, it has been hit by inflationary increases this year, notably to labour, packaging and delivery logistics costs.

Savelli said it had passed on some limited price increase, but is focussed on mitigating cost increases through efficiencies.

“We are a premium brand, but this is pasta not diamonds we’re selling,” he said. “We need to be conscious this is a difficult moment for many customers and not increase prices too much and operate in a smarter way.”

The group has looked to decrease packaging and logistics costs to reduce cost of sales without impacted food quality.

“This year we should be the biggest pasta brand in the UK by revenues, which we are very proud of to become leaders in the category having only started the business six years ago,” he said.