Like many, we went into the end of 2020 with no idea how 2021 would turn out. We did know it would be uncertain. We did assume the UK retailers would probably be focused on cost management and unlikely to engage in our premium healthy products. We also assumed raw materials would be volatile as the supply chains were impacted by the pandemic.
I guess after almost 7 years of trading we assumed we would ride these impacts out and hoped everything would calm down by Spring, so the agenda was to keep costs down but also to use the time available to build a better business base.
It has been a busy year. We were certainly right about uncertainty and raw material volatility. We did use the time available to invest £400,000 in equipment and site refurbishment, we now have a fully integrated building with improved facilities. This was thanks in no small measure to both increased shareholder investment and a grant from the Hertfordshire Growth Hub, our site is now accredited by BRC and the Soil Association.
This has given us a much needed springboard as international and UK sales grew through the year, in the UK market our customers expanded and sales grew, with a surge in sales as we come out of lockdown measures.
Branded sales benefited from direct sales to Iceland with our first order for a major Icelandic chain in December. In addition to the increase in our branded sales, our zero waste customers went from strength to strength and grew by 60% through the year.
We started to export organic granola to Denmark in May and shipping to Saudi Arabia in November. Further plans are in place to develop international sales though we also know we have to work hard with our team to make sure the wins experienced in 2021 continue to flourish, with new personnel and changes of responsibility, adding to our capability and resilience
As every small business, our focus is more on what we do next than what we have done in the past so we continue to have a full agenda and expect to further develop our branded sales next year and also can see strong opportunities in the expansion of our trail mix products that were launched in 2021.
We are not taking anything for granted, the impact of the pandemic cannot be discounted nor the effect of inflation on products and services, on the positive side we believe our innovative approach, strong technical and manufacturing capability and investment in marketing to the widest possible audience drive us ahead and with a bigger stronger team in place, we plan to continue our expansion.
Thanks to all for their support and I hope everyone has a great 2022… Robin
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