North East sports company gets cash injection
An ethical sports and wellbeing brand that was developed in the North East has received a major angel investment from two of the region’s most high-profile businesswomen.
Newcastle-based Natural Hero, which was founded by entrepreneur Louise Vincent, launched its first range last year and has now been backed by Fiona Cruickshank and Sara Davies, who are both members of investment group Gabriel Investors. This has been joined with funding from Northstar Venture’s Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund.
The non-medicinal body care range was born out of research with sports physiotherapists along with formulation and plant scientists at Newcastle University, to bring the benefits of naturally formulated body care to sports recovery. Manufactured in the North of England, the brand is aimed at the booming outdoor and active market in the UK and positioned as an environmentally-friendly, feel good alternative to existing training and recovery products.
The range currently includes two botanical based bodycare products, a Hot Ginger Muscle Rub and a Cool Peppermint Muscle Spritz.Natural Hero recently hit the shelves of 56 Holland & Barratt stores after securing an initial trial. This follows wins from several other major retailers within naturals and sports channels that include Fenwick, Wholefoods, Snow & Rock and Sweatshop.
Louise Vincent, sales director and founder at Natural Hero, said: “I am delighted that the business has gained investment from such well-respected business professionals like Fiona and Sara along with Northstar Ventures as it will allow us to take the company to the next level.
“Although the financial injection will of course play a key role in helping us scale-up production, obtain bigger office space, gain more listings and raise awareness of the brand, it is their mentoring and practical experience that provides invaluable assistance.
“The business is heading in the right direction and we expect to see a real boom in the sports and wellbeing market post-London 2012. Our Natural Hero products are well positioned to assist retailers in expanding their sports recovery and pain relief categories with something much more in keeping with what the modern active consumer demands,” added Louise.
Fiona Cruickshank is well-known for her track record in building successful pharmaceutical companies in the North East including SCM Pharma, while Sara Davies is recognised as one of the region’s best young entrepreneurs and runs Country Durham-based crafts supply business Crafter’s Companion.Both are part of Gabriel Investors, which offers investment of £5,000 - £100,000 and expertise to ambitious, growing businesses.
Positioned as ‘the alternative’ funding option for companies in the region, its members include some of the most successful businesspeople in the North.Fiona Cruickshank at Gabriel Investors said: “This is the biggest investment made to date by any of the Gabriel Investors so really illustrates the potential growth value of the Natural Hero brand.
“Louise has done a truly incredible job to date in terms of starting the business from scratch, creating a brand and building regular sales from some impressive retailers and wholesalers.
“The next stage for the business will be to build consumer awareness of the products and continue to secure trade listings to help drive sales of existing products, whilst also looking at developing new products to add to the existing range.”
Alex Buchan at Northstar Ventures added: “Natural Hero presented a great opportunity to invest in an innovative business alongside experienced angels, Fiona and Sara. We were very impressed with Louise and the team who had a clear, well defined growth strategy that made the decision to invest simple.
“The team has been able to gather some early momentum with the Holland & Barrett success and we are very much looking forward to building on this with the team in the near future.”
The Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund is backed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.Since its introduction, Natural Hero has become the first sport and fitness brand to receive Ethical Accreditation from the Ethical Company Organisation last year and is also a member of 1% for the planet the initiative founded by Yvon Chouinard of outdoor wear giant Patagonia.
The range contains over 98% natural ingredients including a combination of essential oils and botanical extracts belonging to a class of herbs called rubefacients. Both products are also pH balanced, moisturising and easily absorbed as well as being free of parabens and SLS and of course, “tested on athletes not animals”.
For more info visit www.naturalhero.co.uk and follow on Twitter @naturalhero1
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jodie Balmer .
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