Healthy Wicklow Ways
Dean Siney’s ready-meals venture started in his mum’s kitchen. After tapping outside expertise and cash, the Nutriquick brand is on the right track, writes Derek Nagle
It’s not easy establishing a food manufacturing operation with minimal capital. So credit to Dean Siney, founder of Nutriquick, a Blessington business that makes nutritionally balanced ready-meals, with chicken and beef burrito bowls the most popular lines.
Siney (31) says his interest in making nutritious food emerged during his time as a GAA player. “The 100 metres and high jump would have been my main events,” he explains. “Then I veered towards Gaelic football, and played at an inter-county level for Wicklow. I became heavily involved in strength and conditioning, and that snowballed into body-building. That’s when I really started to focus on the nutrition side of things’’.
There was some food heritage in the family too - Siney’s late grandfather John Downey ran an organic butcher shop in Terenure, Dublin, for almost forty years. Siney’s own product development started in his mother’s kitchen, which led to the rental of a 1,500 sq. ft. catering kitchen, before expansion to the current 12,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility.
To find out about food and nutrition, Siney undertook an online course. When Nutriquick came to market in 2016, the business model was very direct, with the business selling into gyms and clubhouses. The founder raised his ambitions by participating in SuperValu’s Food Academy programme, which mentors food product producers who want to be stocked on supermarket shelves.
The Food Academy process involved group meetings, presentations, and demonstration days with product tastings. SuperValu subsequently listed Nutriquick, and the range is also available in selected Aldi, Spar and Londis stores. “Our customers have put their faith in the brand,” says Siney. “Multiples have been massive supporters and have given us the opportunity to become established’’.
The first trading company, Nutriquick Ltd, was incorporated in 2015 and dissolved in 2019, replaced by Nutriquick Ireland Ltd. Accounts for the latter company to June 2020 disclose capital investment in plant, machinery and the premises of €202,000. Net current liabilities at period end were €132,000.
In September 2019, Siney sourced outside investment of €120,000, including €5,000 from Dublin footballer Philly McMahon. The main investor was a company associated with retail distributor SFW Distribution, which invested €100,000 for 40 shares in Nutriquick Ireland. Tom Gannon, one of the founders of the Cali Cali brand, was also allotted shares, paying €20 for his 20 shares, and becoming a director.
According to Siney: “We got so far, but then we realised we required more volume. We secured the listing with
Aldi in 2019, and I knew that I couldn’t do everything myself for much longer. I looked for outside funding, and Tom Gannon was the first investor. Our brands have a similar selling proposition, so there was an opportunity to collaborate. Resources and expertise were our primary goals, though we needed some working capital as well.”
Nutriquick products fall into three main categories: traditional, burrito bowls, and vegan. “Our bullseye consumer is a busy professional in their early 20s to late 40s,” says Siney. “Though we started out in the health and fitness niche, there is a much bigger market out there. People have educated themselves about health and nutrition in recent years, and convenience has always been king.”
In recent months, Nutriquick and Cali Cali have formed closer links, with the Wicklow firm developing a new Mexican Chipotle Chicken meal. Boyne Valley is now a shareholder in the Cali Cali operating company, which should be good for Nutriquick’s route to market too.