Minecraft to meals: Dundee tech duo among investors as firm heads for £80m float – The Courier

A ready meals company backed by Dundee tech entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl has announced plans to float on the stock market.

The popularity of Parsley Box, an online meals delivery business aimed at people aged over 60, has boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr van der Kuyl and his business partner Paddy Burns own 4J Studios which helped turn the Minecraft computer game into a global success.

Investments in ready meals company

They invested £1.3 million in Parsley Box in October 2019 when it was delivering 30,000 meals a month.

© Kris Miller
Chris van der Kuyl.

They provided additional capital in subsequent funding rounds and now own around 15% of the company.

Parsley Box now has monthly sales of 900,000 meals and could be valued at £80m when it floats on the Alternative Investment Company in late March/early April.

It was founded just four years ago by Gordon and Adrienne MacAulay.

Parsley Box’s meals can be stored at ambient temperature for up to six months.

Right time, right place

Mr van der Kuyl, who is the firm’s non-executive chairman, said the convenience was the main attraction to the firm’s customers.

“Baby boomers feel decades younger than their parents did when they retired and they’re looking for convenience, freeing up time to live life to the fullest,” he said.

Chris van der Kuyl.

“When everybody is looking to serve Millennials and the next generation, who is creating a phenomenal brand for these customers? We thought this was the right time, right place.

“The business provides a service that has really helped people in the pandemic and has had fantastic growth. We get fantastic customer feedback.

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“We’re entering an exciting new growth phase and have ambitious plans to build a brand that caters for the needs of the original rule breaker generation.”

Another Dundee entrepreneur joins board

The listing comes amid a flurry of London floats for ecommerce businesses, such as Virgin Wines.

Parsley Box plans to offer shares to retail investors as well as institutions, unlike many recent listings.

The firm has added Ana Stewart, who has strong links to Dundee and Fife, to its board as a non-executive director.

She conceived her ATM software business i-design at her Newport kitchen table before setting up in Dundee. The company sold to US cash machine giant Cardtronics for £8.5m in 2013.

Parsley Box pitches ‘huge potential’ to investors

Parsley Box describes its over-60s target market as “underserved, large, growing and wealthy”.

It had revenues of £24.4m last year and an active customer base of around 154,000.

It has a meal range of 60 dishes across various cuisines. Its product range has been expanded to also include wines, spirits, cakes, deserts and gifts such as chocolates.

Parsley Box said it was “highly scalable” with a “capital light operating model”. This is due to outsourcing of logistics, manufacturing and delivery.

It said there was significant scope to extend the product and category range which should lead to an increase in average order value.

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Mr van der Kuyl said he would remain invested in Parsley Box after the listing.

“We are invested in this company for the long term,” he added.



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