Return to profit for pioneering Pieminister as new ‘snacking patty’ range and ethical stance drive sales

January 10, 2020

Iconic Bristol specialist food and restaurant firm Pieminister has achieved double-digit sales growth for the fourth year running.

It also returned to profit after falling into the red in 2018 – a turnaround it said it had achieved without easing back on its journey to further establish itself as the UK’s most ethical and sustainable pie company. 

It said the 15% increase in turnover to just under £16.5m – against a 14% rise the previous year – was due to an “award-winning snacking innovation” and the continued success of its unique pie restaurant concept.

Pre-tax profits for the year to the end of March were £349,000 – compared to a loss before tax of £310,000 in the previous year – pushing up its gross margin from 21% to 24%.

Privately owned Pieminister, which became the UK’s No1 premium pie brand in the grocery market last April based on sales, said it had stepped up its commitment to invest and innovate across all areas of the business.

Part of the investment was to support the expansion of its central kitchen in Bristol, where it bakes all of its award-winning pies and patties using responsibly sourced ingredients.

The investment created space to produce a four-strong range of Great Taste Award-winning snacking patties, which are sold across the country in Sainsbury’s supermarkets as well as hundreds of pubs and independent retailers.

They are also sold in Pieminister’s own restaurants, which now number 16 following the latest opening in Exeter in November.

The restaurant part of the business achieved growth of 28% for the year end March 31, which the group said was down to a continual roll-out in university cities. Like-for-like sales in the period, during which it oversaw successful openings in Sheffield and Liverpool, were 8%.

Pieminister’s brand licensing division, which partners with prestige brands such as Vans, Picture House Cinemas, Go Ape and the Hilton Group, chalked up 12% growth. It also rolled out a plastic-free home delivery menu via Uber Eats and Deliveroo during the year.

The group, launched with a single restaurant in Stokes Croft in 2003, now employs more than 300 people across its restaurant portfolio and central kitchen.

Co-founder and MD Jon Simon said: “Our plan is to continue to develop a strong brand presence in both retail and food service channels and to deliver the best, most ethical pie experience in the UK.

“There are many exciting plans afoot as we enter 2020. In particular, we’re preparing to launch a major tree-planting initiative this spring which we hope will also encourage the most committed carnivores to try our ever-growing range of plant-based pies and patties, for the health and wellbeing of both people and planet.”

Pieminister said its “young, conscientious customers” were keen to consume in a mindful, considered way and they knew they could trust Pieminister to do business the ‘right way’.

Last summer it became the first UK supplier to become certified plastic-free across its retail, wholesale and mail order packaging.

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