Kirsty’s is moving away from co-manufacturers with its first production facility in the north of England as the free-from ready-meals maker seeks to double the size of the business within three years.

Kirsty Henshaw founded the company in Fylde, Lancashire, a decade ago before appearing on the television programme Dragon’s Den, where start-ups pitch their wares hoping to attract investment. She then worked with presenters Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne for the following three years and the business is now worth GBP11m (US$14m).  

The company has invested GBP2m in its newly-built plant in the town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The factory is now operational with the capacity to produce 20 million chilled ready-meals a year that are free-from gluten, wheat and dairy. Similarly, it also manufactures frozen pizza and desserts, and plans to expand into soups, pies and sauces.

Its ready-meals are stocked in Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Ocado, the Co-op and Waitrose, while its pizza and desserts are available in Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.

Henshaw, who is managing director, said: “From the very first day I started the business I have always wanted to own my own factory. Up until now, we have worked with hand-picked manufacturers and whilst this has given the brand security and an easier route to market over the years it didn’t give me the flexibility and control over my own destiny that I’ve always craved. Now the factory is up and running I’m looking forward to this new chapter in Kirsty’s history.”