Dean Best

Interview: UK snacks firm New York Delhi eyes growth away from supermarkets

By Dean Best | 2 August 2013

UK snacks firm New York Delhi has secured a listing with Australia's largest retailer Woolworths Ltd but the company insists it is aiming to grow without "selling out" to the large supermarket chains.

The company, founded in 2007, has listings with Waitrose and Ocado but has set its sights on targeting travel-related outlets, including hotels and airlines. Exports are around 45% of the firm's revenues, which, founder Nina Uppal tells just-food, are "not quite a million" but are almost doubling year-on-year.

New York Delhi has secured a listing for its VIP Nuts brand with Woolworths, which will mean Australia, at a stroke, becomes the firm's largest export market.

However, the contract to supply six lines to Woolworths is for the Christmas trading period, and Uppal insists New York Delhi, after adopting a "scattergun" approach to business in its early days, wants to focus its attention on growing via five-star hotels, private airlines and rail outlets including Eurostar.

"When we first started out, whether a supermarket, sandwich chain, a coffee shop, if wanted the product, then great. However, when we went to China, we noticed the biggest reaction we had was from hotel chains. That forced us to look at our business and look at where we get the biggest rate of sale and you find it's anything to do with travel," she explains.

New York Delhi has seen its nuts on sale at Sainsbury's stores through a presentation pack with beer brand Cobra. However, Uppal says the company, while happy to do business with Waitrose and Ocado, prefers to look outside the supermarket channel to grow its business.

"Our focus is not to get into those sort of companies. We look at other so-called start-ups or small businesses and they all say: 'We wouldn't sell to Tesco'. But the moment they get approached they sell out very quickly," she says. "We're happy to have a conversation but it doesn't mean to say we'll supply them because we are not looking to get hammered on our margin or suddenly become a slave to their production because we know there's so much exciting business to be scooped up elsewhere, without having to compromise ourselves."

Asked if the deal with Woolworths could change her perception of working with supermarkets, Uppal says it is "very unlikely".

"With Woolworths, the impression I get, and we'll find out because we'll be going out when we're launching the range there in November time, it's a lot more upmarket, more like Waitrose," she says. "This is very much targeting the Christmas period, it's in and then out and that kind of suits us. We're not looking to be a slave to their production either."

She adds: "We have been approached by Asda because they like the ingredient but there's no way we would sell out to them. It would damage what we are trying to do ultimately. We are not looking to become mainstream in that way. You can still be a really big business without having to sell out to those type of companies. Waitrose we will draw the line there because the customer profile is right, it also gives us exposure."

New York Delhi's other main export markets include Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Hong Kong. Uppal said the company is looking at possible listings in China and wants to build on its presence in the US after interest at the recent Fancy Food Show in New York City.

"It's very small compared to other export accounts but it's very key, especially with a name like New York Delhi we need to have a presence in the US. Now, with the potential two, three leads, which I think could be very promising, the whole picture could change in the next eight to ten months."

Sectors: Snacks

Companies: Waitrose, Ocado, Woolworths Ltd, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda

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