The news comes shortly after chilli paste firm Mak Tok featured in a 19 July re-run of the 2019 Dragon’s Den series in which it secured £50,000 from Dragon Sara Davies. Kirsty’s said the production facility would allow it to move away from co-manufacturers and will give Kirsty’s the capability to produce 20m ready meals per year.
Commenting on the investment, managing director Kirsty Henshaw said: “Up until now we have worked with hand-picked manufacturers and while this has given the brand security and an easier route to market over the years it didn’t give me the flexibility and control over my own destiny that I’ve always craved.
“Now the factory is up and running I’m looking forward to this new chapter in Kirsty’s history. The fact that we will have the capability to produce 20m free-from ready meals a year and be able to explore new product development like never before is something that excites me and everyone working for the brand.”
Frozen gluten and dairy-free
Founded ten years ago, Kirsty’s is a producer of gluten and dairy-free frozen pizzas and desserts found is supermarket freezer cabinets across the UK.
Henshaw appeared on the BBC programme Dragon’s Den in the same year Kirsty’s was founded. She secured an investment of £65,000 for a 30% stake in the business from dragons Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones. Henshaw bought out the dragons in January this year, with the business now worth £11m.
Completion of the factory amid the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic has placed some strain on Henshaw and her business. However, the key worker status of the food industry meant that she was able to press forward with her plans.
“It certainly has been one of the most challenging, stressful and emotional few months of my life but we managed to make it to the other side and I can now start to enjoy the hard work myself and the team have put in,” Henshaw added
New product development
“We’re looking forward to sharing what the new factory will bring to the brand. New product development has always been a passion of mine and I’m sure that our customers won’t have to wait long before seeing new and exciting free-from products hitting the shelves.”
Meanwhile, First Milk is investing £5m this financial year to boost capacity and meet environmental goals, chief executive Shelagh Hancock and chief financial officer Greg Jardine reveal in this exclusive Food Man Talks video podcast.
Commenting following First Milk's latest annual results, Hancock said the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic had not hampered the dairy cooperative’s investment plans.