Holies Crisps Ltd
Hoiles Crisps Ltd (HCL) is based near Diss in Norfolk and has a growing reputation in the premium snack market. Begun by potato farmer, Richard Hoiles, in 2004, the company now produces a range of top quality ‘hand-fried’ gourmet crisps. It supplies over 6,000 independent retailers, including high class stores, farm shops, health food shops, delicatessens and ‘gastropubs’ around the UK. Richard is Managing Director of HCL and owns 80% of the business – the rest is owned by a private equity firm.
The business grew from a need to add value to the farm’s existing potato crop. The farm had been a major potato grower for the big supermarkets for over 15 years, farming 900 acres.
However, the business came under increasing price pressure and with a basic commodity, that had no branding potential, it was hard to compete. There was also huge uncertainty caused by the fluctuations in crop prices. The task that Richard faced was how to meet the challenges of price pressure and to keep growing top quality, established potato varieties. Richard carried out market research on handmade premium products, bought a second-hand chip fryer and had a go at slicing and cooking his own potato crisps. To his surprise, the results were delicious and Hoiles Crisps was born. The crisps sector is the largest segment of the UK snack food market.
Nearly 9 billion packets of crisps are sold annually, which works out at 150 packets per person per year, more than the rest of Europe put together. HCL has less than 0.5% of this market but has more than a 10% share of the fast growing ‘better for you’ niche of the snack food sector.
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