Dragons’ Den success stories: Worthenshaw’s (and what you can learn from them)

Rebranded to Kirsty’s, the ice cream business which secured funding from Jones and Bannatyne has since pivoted to ready meals...

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Company name: Worthenshaw’s (now Kirsty’s)
Description: A dairy-free, sugar-free frozen pudding alternative to ice cream
Series: 8
Year: 2010
Investment received: £65,000 for 30%
Dragon investor: Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne
Still in business? Yes but has pivoted the business offering

Now 29, Worthenshaw’s founder Kirsty Henshaw was the youngest entrepreneur to receive funding from the Dragons when she appeared on the show in 2010 with her range of free-from, frozen ice cream alternatives.

Bannatyne and Jones were keen to take a stake in the business and help the budding female entrepreneur to launch nationally in major supermarkets. However, it would appear that Henshaw was unable to gain the traction needed for the ice cream business and, in July 2012, it was announced that Worthenshaw’s had rebranded to Kirsty’s with a focus on chilled adult ready meals.

Henshaw’s decision to pivot the business appears to have paid off and her gluten-free, dairy-free meals are now stocked in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado and Asda with sales reported to have grown 75% in the last 12 months.

Now valued at £4m, the Kirsty’s brand is rapidly taking off and on her blog Henshaw has commented that “while the business has evolved and moved on from desserts to concentrate on savoury meals, the aim and vision of the company remains unchanged”.

Henshaw has since bought back her shares from Jones and Bannatyne and now owns a 100% stake in the company but it would seem that Jones wasn’t too happy with his investment – in Series 12 of the Den he stated that the “ice cream market was impossible to make money in”.

Watch the original pitch here.

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