Huel hires former Sainsbury’s buyer

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Huel claims to have clocked up more than £5.3m in sales in January alone
Huel claims to have clocked up more than £5.3m in sales in January alone
Powdered food brand Huel has hired former Sainsbury’s buying manager Daniel Plimmer as head of procurement and demand as it forges ahead with expansion plans.

James McMaster, chief executive of the ‘complete food’ brand, told Food Manufacture​ the business was “investing massively​” in team members to help “handle its growth​”.

“We’ve grown from 20 people two years ago to around 100 across six offices in the UK, US and Germany,”​ he said.

Plimmer spent more than five years at Sainsbury’s, working in various senior purchasing roles before departing as buying manager. 

Innocent Drinks

Prior to that he spent five years and three months at Innocent Drinks, joining as a fruit buyer before taking on the position of procurement team leader.

His appointment comes as Huel, which was founded in 2015, recently expanded into Japan, which has a population of more than 126 million people – twice that of the UK.

Huel’s products, which include powder, bars, granola cereal and ready-to-drink bottles, are sold across 80 countries.

The business works with different manufacturing partners around the world who own the factories.

“Huel is focused on nutritionally complete food that’s convenient, affordable and with a minimal impact on animals and the environment,”​ McMaster said. “We’ve evolved massively since our powder launch in 2015 into different product types. We have an MVP (minimum viable product) approach to launching new products. 

‘Huge number of projects’ 

“We’d rather get there quicker and then listen to feedback from customers about how to make the product even better. So, we actually have a huge number of projects going on, just to keep making small improvements to our existing products. We are on version three of our bars, for instance, and I know they can keep getting better.”

The business described January as its most profitable month, with revenue exceeding £5.3m – equating to a meal sold every second.

McMaster added that new product development was always a challenge. “If it isn’t, you probably aren’t innovating properly,”​ he said. “Some products we’ve found really frustrating to get to market. Our ready-to-drink launch a few months back was two years in the making, which is super slow by our standards. 

“One of our ‘How to be a Hueligan’ phrases for our team is ‘Hustle hard and work fast’. We worked as fast as we could, but it was definitely a slower, more complex project. That was mainly due to production challenges. Our team is learning and growing all the time and our challenge is to keep nimble now that we are a larger, global business.” 

Related topics: People, Healthy foods

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