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Ready meals demand boosts sales for Laila’s

By Rod Addy , 19-Sep-2011
Last updated the 19-Sep-2011 at 16:15 GMT

Laila’s Fine Foods is reporting substantial growth in frozen and chilled ready meals as Mintel figures suggest the UK market is experiencing significant growth.

Blackpool-based Laila’s, which deals with a range of traditional English ready meals and ethnic cuisine, such as Italian, Indian and Mexican foods, boasted sales of £2.7M in 2007. In the past full financial year it posted sales of £9.5M and it is projecting sales of £12M for the next year, a growth rate of more than 25%.

Md Laila Remtulla said much of the current growth was coming from nationwide own-label sales generated by major supermarket customers such as Morrisons and Asda. However, considerable demand was still coming from foodservice and wholesale customers, which constitute 35% of sales and include major chains in the hospitality, pub and entertainment sectors.

Supermarket customers

“We just launched nine meals for Asda last week,” said Remtulla, which came off the back of existing business. “We are hoping to extend business with foodservice and supermarket customers. The retail market tends to be quite busy in the winter months.”

Recent new business wins in retail for Laila’s also include a contract with convenience store chain Spar. While the economic downturn had hit the food service sector, Laila had benefited from straddling both markets, she said.

Laila’s was in constant conversation with all multiple supermarket and foodservice chains and was constantly looking for new channels to build trade, she added. “Contract catering would be a really good area for us. It’s an area we haven’t fully explored yet.”

As demand has risen the company has increased its frozen and chilled storage capacity to keep pace. It also aims to grow this capacity further in the coming year by securing additional space near its processing plant.

The family business, in which Laila’s husband Alnazir and her three daughters are all involved, was established in 1986, but received a boost in 1999 when it began supplying Yates’s pubs and bars.

Ready meals

Latest figures from market analyst Mintel’s British lifestyles 2011 report, which were released this month, showed that UK sales of ready meals have grown 51% between 2000 and 2010 to a value of £3.3bn. According to Mintel’s Prepared meals and meal centres – Europe report, published at the end of last year, UK sales of chilled ready meals had picked up in 2010. Sales of frozen ready meals continued to struggle, the report claimed.

For more on Laila’s Fine Foods, see the November edition of our sister publication Food Manufacture magazine.