Sprout pivots in pandemic towards takeaway and supplying food retailers

Food company’s accounts show €229,496 profit last year despite reduction in turnover

Jack Kirwan, managing director  of Sprout. ‘I don’t have a crystal ball but we’re staying positive. People will still want to eat out – it’s one of the great things in life.’

Jack Kirwan, managing director of Sprout. ‘I don’t have a crystal ball but we’re staying positive. People will still want to eat out – it’s one of the great things in life.’

 

Healthy eating restaurant group Sprout pivoted towards takeaway services and supplying produce from its organic farm to 15 retailers in Dublin during the lockdown, its co-founder Jack Kirwan has said.

Sprout operates six food service outlets in Dublin, serving healthy options to customers. It closed five of its outlets in mid-March during the lockdown, with its Baggot Street premises remaining open to provide takeaway services.

In another pivot to its usual business strategy, Sprout began supplying a range of vegetables from its 11-acre organic farm in Co Kildare to 15 food retailers, including Avoca, Fallon & Byrne and Mortons in Ranelagh. “They’ve been flying off the shelves,” Mr Kirwan said.

The pandemic was a “huge shock” to the business and led to 90 staff being furloughed with 15 members of the management team staffing its Baggot Street outlet, and a temporary kitchen established in Churchtown to meet a surge in demand from online orders that are handled by Deliveroo.

“They all rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, which is evidence of a strong culture in the business. We shifted to a takeaway model.”

Reopened

Its outlets in Ballsbridge and Exchequer Street have since reopened and Mr Kirwan said about half of its orders are coming via mobile phones, with 18,000 downloads of its app. “It makes it easier to run the restaurants and to manage queues and we’ve put in a production line for digital only,” he said, adding that it has also established collection points at Bear Market Coffee outlets in Dublin in a bid to reach more customers.

Mr Kirwan said Government supports had helped the company to weather the storm, along with help from its nine landlords. “They gave us breathing space and support from the start,” he said.

Accounts just filed for Sprout & Co Kitchen Ltd show it moved into the black last year in spite of its turnover reducing by just under €500,000. The company made a profit of €229,496 in 2019 compared with a loss of €378,022 in the previous year.

This reduced its accumulated losses to €352,062. Mr Kirwan said the reduction in turnover reflected the closure of an outlet and its planned relocation to a new premises on Dawson Street.

Outlook

In terms of the outlook, Mr Kirwan said: “I don’t have a crystal ball but we’re staying positive. People will still want to eat out – it’s one of the great things in life. Hopefully we can get through the next three to six months.”

Founded in 2015 by brothers Jack and Theo Kirwan, Sprout’s investors include Rosaleen Blair, founder and chair of Alexander Mann, and Simon Pratt and Tara O’Neill, both formerly of Avoca.