Meet the finalists for Emerging Business of the Year 2024

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Congratulations to our finalists for Emerging Business of the Year
Congratulations to our finalists for Emerging Business of the Year

Related tags Business Leadership R&D Food manufacture excellence awards

Great Balls of Flour, Fuel Hub and Little Bobby Jebb Foods are all in the running for next year’s Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.

Great Balls of Flour

York-based Great Balls of Flour is committed to 100% natural sourdough, with its dough undergoing meticulous fermentation, allowing enzymes to diligently break down gluten. This is said to enhance flavour, alongside providing a flavourful alternative to some of those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

In the recent fiscal year, the bakery company has achieved a remarkable milestone on turnover, growing by 77% compared to the previous year.

Alongside this substantial increase in revenue, Great Balls of Flour has witnessed a remarkable surge of 270% in its post-tax profits, further underlining its financial prowess. Additionally, its order volume experienced a robust uptick of 39%.

Its customer base has continued to flourish, boasting a substantial figure of more than 31,000 profiles, including a substantial portion of loyal, repeat customers. Building on this solid foundation, Fuel Hub is poised for even greater accomplishments in the upcoming fiscal year, with an anticipated turnover forecasted to approach the £1m mark.

To pave the way for this ambitious growth, this business has undertaken a series of strategic initiatives. This summer, it invested into its infrastructure through the expansion of its storage capacity by sixfold. Concurrently, it has ramped up its production capacity to a rate of 2,000 dough balls per hour. These enhancements were funded entirely from its profits.

In addition to bolstering its internal capabilities, it has also diversified its revenue streams through strategic partnerships. Recently, it inked a lucrative deal with a prominent outdoor cooking brand, allowing the brand to seamlessly dropship its pizza box orders. This venture is just one of several in the pipeline, with a notable highlight being a forthcoming partnership with a national garden centre chain scheduled for go-live April 2024.

These strategic moves, combined with its robust financial performance and growing customer base, position Great Balls of Flour firmly on the trajectory toward sustained and substantial growth.

Little Bobby Jebb Foods

Since its inception in 2017, Little Bobby Jebb has been focused on R&D.

In 2023 the business launched the brand properly, rolling out its first product, a 40g chicken crackling snack using its machinery it designed.

With no sales team or marketing budget, just word of mouth, its turnover this year (so far) has just passed £150k via online and specialist wholesale listings. The company was also awarded BRC accreditation in August 2023.

Given its traction and position of readiness now, and that it has already won four awards for its first product this year, the business says it has a clear plan for the future.

For its chicken crackling products, its targets include on-trade, multiple retail, direct to consumer, UK white label wholesale for Asian consumers, and export and a bulk offering to foodservice, including casual dining/HORECA.

Secondly, it will be developing its next range of products with sustainability in mind, made from its chicken skin byproduct. The first of these is already complete, a chicken oil for chefs and consumers, and a pure chicken dripping for B2B applications.

Thirdly, the company is planning to move into ‘green tech’ with a consumer app concept devised by its founder that guides households into simple meal plans via notifications to eliminate food waste from their weekly shop. If successful, the technology could seamlessly be integrated into multiple retail barcodes.

Fuel Hub

Fuel Hub is a fast-growing, online premium performance meal delivery service, specialising in high-quality, and convenient meals fit for health-conscious consumers – formulated by expert nutritionists.

The company, co-founded by husband-and-wife team James and Michelle Laithwaite, is based in Warrington in the North West of England. The company helps people take control of their nutrition and save time – from sports teams and elite athletes to gym-goers, working professionals, busy parents and families. Since launching in 2019, Fuel Hub’s fuelled over 168,000 athletes across 25 elite sports in the UK – including an official partnership with Super League Triathlon.

Fuel Hub’s meals are created and designed by expert nutritionists and development chefs, using premium, fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The meal performance company has a rotating menu of 40 plus meals per month and produces meals 7 days a week with the help of its in-house team of skilled chefs, production and logistic operatives.

The business launched in 2019 with a headcount of three – co-founders Michelle and James and one chef. In 2020, the team grew by two through the addition of a second chef and a pot washer, before a threefold increase in headcount in 2022 to 15. Now the company has a team of 30 employees.

Since its inception, Fuel Hub has achieved incredible year-on-year growth. In 2020, the company recorded a turnover of £87,000, which increased to £303,412 in 2021, and then more than doubled to £644,097 in 2022. The company’s turnover for 2023 is £822,105.

Fuel Hub is projected to reach a turnover of £2.1m by the end of April 2024.

The winners of Emerging Business of the Year will be announced at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2024 on Thursday 8 February at the London Hilton Bankside. You can buy tickets here.​​​

Thank you to our headliner sponsor Menzies, alongside event sponsors Quor, HSBC, and CAS Recruitment

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