With the release of a new range of protein bars and the signing of its first export contract, Blanchardstown snack food company Everest is scaling up.
“We expect to be selling in over 1,000 outlets in Ireland by the end of the year and have just signed a contract with a UK distributor selling to supermarkets and convenience stores and are set to deliver our first export order on August 5," says Everest founder Seamus Tighe.
Targeting the market for “healthy on the go foods”, Everest has been selling granola cups with seeds, nuts, fruit, and yoghurt since 2014.
Earlier this year it extended its range with the launch of protein bars as well as two types of “Quickie" porridge pots and a protein pot.
Supplying Granola cups to customers which include Supervalu, Mace, Londis, as well as Tesco and Applegreen, the company is working on selling its new products to existing customers and on developing new markets.
“Our snack bars have under 200 calories, just two grammes of sugar and are high in protein and can be eaten as an ‘on the go’ nutritious snack by everyone including athletes," he says, adding that the company plans to target gyms and the foodservice industry.
Initially setting up a business to supply a restaurant chain with salads, sandwiches and breakfast products, Mr Tighe discovered that the granola cup with fruit and nuts was particularly popular with consumers.
Making a successful pitch to the SuperValu Food Academy with the granola cup product, he got an agreement to supply 10 stores as part of a trial.
“I got a company to design packaging and developed the granola cup as a commercial retail product," he says.
Funding to set the company, Everest Granola included a €10,000 loan and then a €30,000 “priming grant” from his Local Enterprise Office.
Only two months after setting up, Everest delivered Granola cups to its first store in Sutton.
Travelling the country at weekends and around the Dublin area during the week, Mr Tighe worked long hours to grow the number of outlets the company was supplying.
“By 2015, we were nationwide in around 120 SuperValu stores and in May got a central distribution agreement with Musgraves," he said.
Finding an Irish company to manufacture the granola cups under contract, Everest then took on its first employee.
Mr Tighe then worked on further building a customer base.
By 2016, the company was supplying 400 stores, he says and began supplying Spar, Londis, and Mace.
And since late 2017, the company was selling to Tesco and now supplies up to 100 of its stores.
Having identified a gap in the market for healthy on the go foods, he set to work on developing additional products.
Becoming an Enterprise Ireland client, Everest secured private investment and matching High potential Start Up funding, last year.
The funds were used to launch a new product range in March which includes three protein bars, a protein pot and the two “Quicky” porridge pots, which are produced for Everest by a number of Irish manufacturers.
The funding also allowed Mr Tighe to grow the staff to seven people, taking on sales staff develop sales in Ireland and also to target exports.
He recruited fitness and fashion blogger Niamh Cullen to promote the new products, in March.
The protein bars are set to be Everest’s first export product, but the company has also signed an agreement with a second distributor in the UK and will start shipping out granola cups at the end of the year.
“We now have additional products in the pipeline, also in the healthy on the go food category and will launch one in September and another in January 2020," says Mr Tighe.
Anticipating turnover to top €1m this year, he aims to grow sales to €2m next year.
He wants exports to account or a fifth of sales by next year and has the US market in his sights.