Edinburgh meal delivery firm targeting over-60s serves up double-digit revenue rise but losses widen

Parsley Box, the Edinburgh-based meal delivery firm, has served up strong first-half numbers and flagged further growth as it pushes upmarket.

The firm, whose shares began trading on London’s Alternative Investment Market in March, 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.

In July, it launched a “premium” chilled range as it continues to ramp up its product offering.

Releasing results for the six months to the end of June, the group reported a 26 per cent rise in revenues to just over £14 million, from £11.1m a year earlier. However, higher costs pushed the business to a loss before tax of £5.4m from about £1m in the first half of 2020.

Edinburgh-headquartered Parsley Box Group is a rapidly growing direct to consumer provider of ready meals focused on the baby boomer-plus demographic. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography

Bosses pointed to a 77 per cent increase in active customers, 38 per cent growth in repeat orders and an 8 per cent increase in average order value.

A £1.2m television advertising campaign was launched to build recognition of the brand, prompting a fivefold increase in “awareness levels”.

Exceptional items in the first half amounted to just over £1.3m, chiefly relating to March’s initial public offering (IPO).

The firm said higher price points and new product ranges were expected to deliver further growth in the second half of the year.

Chief executive Kevin Dorren said: “This has been a highly rewarding period for the company. Parsley Box has achieved a great deal since our IPO in March.

“The business is well capitalised and is using the opportunity to invest in new customers, product innovation and broadening our team as outlined in the run up to IPO.

“We have been successful in strengthening our team in the critical areas of innovation and IT positioning us well to deliver our goals in 2021 and beyond.

“The initial results of the investment in product innovation have been encouraging with the trial of chilled ready meals delivering an increase in customer basket size and lower new customer recruitment costs compared to our purely ambient offering.

“Delivering our initial product innovation plan has been well received by our customer base.

“The focus remains to deliver long-term growth within the UK to achieve a sustainable, profitable business and a recognised brand for the baby boomer-plus demographic,” he added.

In July, the group said it was expanding its repertoire to further appeal to the “broad tastes of its baby boomer-plus base”.

The new chilled range, branded as the Chef’s Table by Parsley Box, consists of eight meals featuring favourite dishes such as beef lasagne and luxury fish pie.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould noted: “While Parsley Box is pleased with the response to its launch of chilled ready meals it is questionable whether this will really move the dial and there is a risk that as it looks to shift to higher price points it loses customers who are turned off by the increased cost.

"It’s an area with lots of existing competition and it is unclear exactly what marks the Parsley Box proposition out from other options.”

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