Edinburgh meal delivery firm Parsley Box sees demand leap amid lockdown

Parsley Box, the Edinburgh-based meal delivery firm, has reported a strong first half but said the easing of Covid restrictions was having some impact on its stellar rate of growth.

Releasing its first trading update since its shares began trading on London’s Alternative Investment Market in March, the firm said it expected to report unaudited revenue of more than £14 million for the first half, an increase of 26 per cent over the same period in 2020 and a massive 411 per cent higher than the first half of 2019.

Active customers at the period end were at record levels as a result of the “substantial” number of new customers acquired in the first half, bosses noted, albeit new customer additions returned to a “more normalised level” compared to the “unusually high level” of new customers in the most recent period.

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Repeat customer orders, seen as a key driver for long-term profitable growth, showed a significant increase on the comparable period a year earlier, “demonstrating the benefit of the acceleration of customer growth seen in 2020, which also continues to flow through into higher order values”, the group added.

Edinburgh-based Parsley Box delivers ready meals that do not need to be stored in a fridge or freezer, direct to the 'underserved baby boomer-plus consumer', broadly defined as those aged 60 and over. Picture: Sandy Young Photography

It told investors: “As Covid-19 restrictions ease, shopping behaviours are beginning to normalise and this has had some impact on sales growth.

“However, the board anticipates that this effect will be short term and is confident that the accelerated shift in consumer behaviour towards our direct-to-consumer model is permanent and that the underlying growth drivers of the business and the favourable demographic trends, remain in place.

“The board expects [second half] revenue growth to be substantially ahead of H1, driven by product innovation and continuing progress in repeat AOV [average order value].”

The company ended the period with £6.5m in cash and no debt following the £5m fundraising completed as part of its successful initial public offering (IPO).

Parsley Box delivers ready meals that do not need to be stored in a fridge or freezer, direct to the “underserved baby boomer-plus consumer”, broadly defined as those aged 60 and over.

The business is led by chief executive Kevin Dorren, who previously founded investment firm Move Fresh, the holding firm for Diet Chef.

He said: “The continued growth delivered in the first half of the financial year driven by strong growth in repeat orders has continued our positive momentum and is very encouraging.

“This, together with our key food development hires of Cassandra Suddes and Serena Philipson, gives us every confidence in the growth prospects for our business. We look forward to delivering the first phase of our product innovation pipeline in H2 2021.”

The group’s half-yearly report is due to be published on September 7.

Last month, the firm announced that Suddes, who has worked with the company as a consultant since the start of the year, will take the role of head of product in August. She is renowned in the food industry for her work in commercial strategy, predicting future trends, leading and delivering product innovation launch programmes with a focus on food provenance.

Additionally, Philipson has been appointed as new product development manager.

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