Restaurant owner plans new ready meals range

Restaurant owner plans new ready meals range

Products are based on Vermillion Cinnabar menu

By Simon Binns

The owner of the Vermillion Cinnabar restaurant in East Manchester is
looking to break into the ready meals market by the end of this year.

Iqbal, chairman and chief executive of Seamark Group, is preparing to
launch a supermarket range based on the Hulme Hall Lane restaurant’s
Asian-influenced menu.

“We have tried to create our own brand through the restaurant and bar and the food we serve,” he told Crain’s.
“Although it is Asian inspired, it has strong European influences too,
and that’s why we think a chilled range of food from our menu will be

Iqbal, whose Seamark Group already sells wholesale
fish, poultry, dry foods, fruit and vegetable products into European
supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, is hoping his contacts in the
competitive sector will make it easier to get a foothold.

is an aggressive market, but we have been in the food industry for a
long time and we are confident that demand is there for the type of
product we are manufacturing,” he said.

“You have to know your
market and make sure you can give your product an attractive brand and
mass appeal. We think we can do that. Around 70 per cent of our
revenues come from Europe, so that is our target market.”

Iqbal said ideas for packaging were currently being worked on in the US and Thailand.

Mackmood, sales manager at Rochdale-based Kiren Foods, which makes
chilled pizzas for the European market, said there was good demand for
ethnic food products.

“It’s a seriously competitive market,
but that sort of product is starting to become a lot more popular in
Europe,” he said. “If he goes for the mainstream market — as opposed to
halal or kosher — he could do really well with it.”


Mackmood said that the only possible drawback was the amount of initial expenditure required to launch products.

are some big companies, such as S&A Foods, that do a similar thing
and have heavyweight backing from supermarkets,” he said. “But if you
can establish yourself, and concentrate on the export market, it is a
good market to be in. It could sell well to expats in Europe.”

S&A, controlled by Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, has built its
business around being a major supplier of ready meals to Asda and
latest accounts show a turnover of £56m.

According to
Mackmood, Iqbal should be looking to sell his product for around £2.50
to £3.50 if chilled and below £2 if frozen. “Chilled food has that
extra appeal and so you can charge a premium,” he said.

also said he was still committed to building a four-star hotel in East
Manchester, despite the failure to deliver the supercasino, although he
said he wanted to see “something concrete” from the council over other
regeneration projects.

“We have tried to make the restaurant a
destination, and that’s what we want to do with the hotel but we need
other things to bring people here,” he said.

Iqbal said he was in discussion with a number of international hotel operators, including Shangri-La Group and Hilton.