Booths sales flat and profits plunge despite new stores

Booths has announced the winner of its inaugural food and drink startup accelerator programme.

Morecambe Bay Chowder Company, founded by Pete Stephenson in 2021, sells dishes, including a seafood chowder, using ingredients local to the Morecombe Bay area. Booths will provide Stephenson with technical, manufacturing and business support in order to grow and develop the business.

“This initiative is our way of giving back, by sharing our insights, experience, market, and tactical investment to help the next generation of food businesses,” said Nigel Murray, Booths MD. Stephenson sells his products from a solar-powered bike, which Booths said particularly impressed the judging panel.

Booths launched applications for the Booths Accelerator Scheme in June 2022. The 12-month programme is formally set to begin from January 2023. Over 500 food and drinks businesses applied, Booths said.

As part of the scheme, Booths will also offer mentoring to four other startups. They are Kendal-based Northern pasta Company, Cheshire confectionery startup Hannah’s Homemade Fudge, food producer Neaum – which has developed a vegetarian scotch egg product called Scotch Vegg – and Colne-based poultry producer Paul’s Turkeys.

Booths joins a growing number of retailers in launching in-house incubator schemes, as a way of fast-tracking innovation and product development.

Tesco has partnered with WWF to launch a sustainability-focused programme that pairs startups with long-running Tesco suppliers to trial green initiatives.

A programme launched by Morrisons, aimed at helping small food businesses scale up, received more than 1,000 applications when it closed in November 2021, with the winner then being stocked on Morrisons shelves.