Tuesday, 03 May 2016

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A television campaign helped boost profits at Scotland-based vegetable giant Albert Bartlett by 67.6 per cent last year to £9.9 million.

The company screened adverts for its red-skinned Rooster brand featuring Desperate Housewives' actress Marcia Cross, during breaks in hit shows including The X Factor, I'm A Celebrity and Coronation Street.

This helped double penetration of the brand to 16 per cent of UK households, delivered value and volume growth of more than 100 per cent and boosted its share to 5 per cent of the UK potato market, reported The Herald.

A later tie-up with Disney saw the company produce packaging featuring Toy Story 3, 2010's highest grossing film.

This increased penetration of Rooster further to 29 per cent of households.

The family-owned company, which caught the headlines with its indigo-coloured "Purple Majesty" potatoes last year, still suffered a 8.6 per cent drop in turnover from £149.2m to £136.3m for the year ended May 31, 2010, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

But a sharp fall in administrative expenses meant an increase in operating profit from £7.3m to £10.2m. Pre-tax profit was up from £5.9m to £9.9m.

The profit leap was achieved despite Albert Bartlett writing £8.3m off the value of its operation in Boston, Lincolnshire.

The directors, headed by owner Ronnie Bartlett, said in a statement accompanying the accounts that the trading performance was "satisfactory" given the economic conditions.

They added: "The external market remains extremely difficult as major retailers continue to battle for market share."

Supermarket core own label produce accounts for the largest volume area of business for the company, which is one of the largest vegetable growers and packaging firms in the UK.

But the directors added: "The area of premium own label and brand continues to be a growing share as a result of variety, innovation and increasing customer loyalty in the area."

It said its marketing campaigns during the year were its biggest investment to date and "delivered a significant step on for the generic Albert Bartlett brand and the Rooster sub brand".

"Innovation and consumer advertising is building value and attracting new and younger consumers to the fresh potato fixture, which will build a strong consumer base for the long-term benefit of the category," they added.

The launch of "Purple Majesty" potatoes in October, after the end of the financial year in question was another major publicity, coup for the company.

Among the charitable donations made by Albert Bartlett during the year was £50,000 given to the University of Edinburgh.

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