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It was a natural choice for us to focus on independent retail in the UK because of the scale and organic way in which we grew the business, and it was definitely easier to develop partner relations with independents because they have a natural resonance with our ethos. Plus, we have always wanted to support high street communities. Every weekend during the first 15 years of the business, my partner David was doing tastings in independents, because when people taste something they understand – it’s like a mini revelation. That’s how it should be. Independent shop owners are wonderful curators, and we’ve benefited hugely from their recognition, loyalty and trust over the years. I don’t think we could succeed easily in the current context of dominant multiples as buyers are completely circumscribed by profitability metrics – to put it bluntly, they don’t want to pay the price for real food, or to commit to running a genuine premium range. We’ve started rolling out the product in America – they don’t have a high street market as we do – and we’ve found that multiples recognise the growth potential of the premium and super premium food sector. They leave space on the shelves for products which move more slowly but have higher margins, the best of the best. It’s interesting that American multiples are more evolved in that sense. British multiples are losing a trick in not supporting small brands.
I’m not a vegetarian but David became vegan about a year ago. I’ve had a lot of positive influences from Tibetan Buddhism, so decided from the get go that we wouldn’t profit from dead beings. This isn’t part of our message, but I accept that everyone has their own view and has to live the way they want to – who am I to judge?
I really admire passion, clarity and truthfulness, and people who have the articulacy and skill to see and truthfully express what is happening to themselves and the planet. I get very excited by scientists and people who are able to move beyond the limits of the mind and conditioned thinking – great physicists and cellular biologists who are opening up new frontiers.
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