Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk at Aimia Foods’ Haydock headquarters in Lancashire, Unsworth said: “We have taken employer numbers up from 250 to 300 in the past year and a large part of that employment growth has been achieved through the winning of a major outsourcing project.”
That project involved a “high-speed, highly automated cereal line” that was installed in September last year, he said. That had followed hot on the heels of the firm installing another pouch pack line in response to demand for dried coffee, milk powders and hot chocolate in pouches, he added.
Now the business was embarking on a further phase of investment, said Unsworth. “We are upgrading significantly our blending system, which allows us to blend pharmaceutical-grade dry powders. The system will increase our blending capacity generally.”
The cereal, pouch pack and blending system projects together would cost millions of pounds, he claimed.
“If we deliver on our plans in the next three to five years, I would hope employee numbers would be closer to 400. Our belief is we can grow the business by £10M a year over the next three years. Within three years we expect to achieve £100M. This year we think sales will reach £70M.”
Unsworth said the company had clocked up £58M in its last financial year to the end of June 2013.
Major growth areas
Coffee and hot chocolate were major growth areas for the business, which makes and packs branded and own-label powdered foods and beverages for vending, retail and foodservice customers, he said.
“Coffee is a major growth area, and hot chocolate. We could deliver our plans just on coffee.”
Unsworth said Aimia Foods’ three to five year growth plan had three strategic platforms. “The first is to develop the branded side of the business through new products with existing clients and new brand partners.”
For example, in 2013 it signed a partnership to produce pouch milkshakes for Hello Kitty.
‘Massive growth opportunity’
“Strategy number two is to significantly grow and develop our private label business with the retailers with a focus on coffee. We under-trade significantly on coffee. We therefore see that as a massive growth opportunity for us.”
To that end, Aimia Foods had invested in a new a pouch line and was also looking into investing in a new glass line for own-label coffee, he said.
“Thirdly we want to develop outsourcing through new and existing clients. We have several ongoing projects and our vision is in five years to have a number of satellite units that will manufacture and pack for blue chip clients.”
These projects would create new jobs, he said. For information on more than 1,200 food and drink industry jobs, visit Food Manufacture's job site, Foodmanjobs.
Other products handled by Aimia Foods include Mars Galaxy Hot Chocolate, No Fear energy drinks and Weight Watchers hot chocolate drink.