Founder: Paul Lindley
Turnover 2010: £16.1m
Turnover 2011: £31.6m (est)
‘Ella’s Dad’, as Paul Lindley describes his job title, humbly admits, “We’ve got these big aspirations to be a global brand” – but in truth Ella’s Kitchen already has an impressive international presence.
Since hitting supermarket shelves in 2006, the business has virtually doubled turnover year on year, launching internationally in 2009. Although it is hard to keep up with its rapid expansion, Ella’s Kitchen currently sell its products in the US, Australia, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Malta and South Africa – with international sales accounting for £10.5m this year. Furthermore, seven new markets are on the company’s hitlist for the next two years, including Brazil, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Having spent 10 years working in children’s television, Lindley was inspired to found the company he named after his daughter, upon learning that 13.7% of British 2-10 year olds were clinically obese – determined that his children and their contemporaries wouldn’t face the same fate. Now he is spreading his dream of “bringing fun to children’s food and helping them to eat better” overseas, believing that “the fact that people around the world are more the same than they are different means our brand can connect with families all around the world.”
However, that is not to say that expansion has been taken lightly. Before entering a new international territory, Lindley’s team makes a careful assessment of certain key criteria, including the region’s population size, birth rate, income distribution, awareness of health and the environment and what size share commercial baby food has of the total food market. Crucially, the brand’s authenticity is also maintained, by working with translation consultants to ensure foreign-language packaging is not only accurate, but maintains the child-like informal tone that represents the brand’s personality.
With countless awards on his fridge and plans to open a second office in the United States, Lindley says of his home-grown business success: “That every second of every day someone somewhere eats an Ella’s Kitchen product is mind blowing.”
Judges’ comments: Since their products hit supermarket shelves in 2006, Ella’s Kitchen has virtually doubled turnover each year and consistently grown profits. They launched internationally in 2009 and are now selling to Australia, USA, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Malta & South Africa with seven new markets planned for the next two years. They have 12% of the Norwegian baby food market, 9% in Sweden and 2% in the USA and in their last financial year 35% of their revenue came from international sales – this is a fantastic 262% growth on the previous year.
Paul Lindley, Ella’s Dad and founder of Ella’s Kitchen said, “I’m honoured to collect this award, the success of Ella's Kitchen is due to the entire team of passionate and talented people I work with, who continuously and consistently deliver the vision I had six years ago.
“Ella’s success on an international scale has been driven by our belief that people around the world are more the same than they are different - we felt our brand would engage families in a variety of countries, as long as we took the time to understand local cultures. We've listened to parents and now every second of every day someone around the world eats an Ella’s Kitchen product. I believe much of our success comes from producing a product just like mum makes at home, coupled with our determination not to take no for an answer!”