Each retailer has its own challenges, needs and desiresFor smaller producers, it can be hard enough meeting the demands of a supply agreement with just one national retailer, let alone a handful. Curran explained that when Muscle Foods began supplying multiple national retailers at the same time, his strategy was to hone in on the specific need each retailer had for its products, then focus on fulfilling that need. That way, Curran said, Muscle Foods gave itself a better chance of keeping all of its clients happy. He told Business Advice: ?For example, since launching our high protein pot meals and pizzas into [Irish supermarket chain] Musgraves, we have been able to turn around the retailer?s overall decline in the frozen category into year-on-year growth! ?Our approach has changed based on the individual needs of each retailer. Each retailer has its own challenges, needs and desires, and being able to partner with a high street retailer based on fulfilling one or all of these is our aim.? Understanding the specific needs of a retailer requires a firm knowledge of each one?s processes, from how they select new products to the logistics of their supply chains. Curran added: ?The most important lesson is that every retailer has its own way of operating. It?s vitally important to understand the process thoroughly before committing to an initial order. ?Empty shelfs, unplanned deliveries and a quick succession of follow up orders can quickly catch you out, so be prepared. If the [retail] partnership works, get ready to turn up the volume control!?
Scaling upHaving secured supplier relationships with a growing number of major retailers, and with a firm foothold in several European markets, the next task facing Curran and Muscle Foods was to expand the business. Scaling up is a phase many small companies struggle with. But, for Muscle Foods, having a proven track record of being able to cope with high growth levels in the company?s first three years made the firm attractive to private investors. __________________________________________________________________________________
Selling to Ocado: An online retailer ready to promote new brands Business Advice?s supply chain series returns to help food entrepreneurs understand what it takes to start selling to Ocado. __________________________________________________________________________________ Following a ?50m valuation at the end of last year, at the start of 2018 Muscle Foods secured a ?10m investment from BGF ? an eight-year old investor that?s funded some 200 small UK businesses, including the likes of gym chain Xercise4Less and Trunki suitcases, to the tune of ?1.3bn. Curran emphasised how much of a milestone the deal represented for the online food retailer. ?It will allow us to scale faster and wider than ever before,? he said. ?We will aggressively up-weight our operations across Europe and invest heavily in improving our customer journey and IT infrastructure, as well as continuing to increase our operations in the UK.? Muscle Foods is an excellent example of what a small UK food supplier can achieve in just a few years. By taking the time to understand its place in the market, and the purpose its products served for each of its retailers, the business has achieved far more than its chief operating officer could have imagined. ?We?ve only just started,? Curran added. If we can build a ?50m company in four years that has changed so many people?s lives using food, then I can?t wait to see what we can do in another four years.?
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