Thriving in adversity: the entrepreneurs bucking the trend

A second Lockdown may present challenges but the first has left some Lockdown savvy businesses well-equipped to cope – including the UK’s first online in-date surplus food retailer, currently celebrating a major business milestone, having achieved a £1.1 million turnover in the past 10 months.

Since launching in 2018, Food Circle Supermarket has already sold over 500,000 food and drink items – typically, protein bars, cookies, and even brownies – that would otherwise have gone to waste and having a negative impact on the environment.

At the end of 2019, it reported a £225,000 turnover with a forecast of £250,000 for the next. But as of this month, this has increased by 338 per cent with a prediction it will reach £1.3 million at year’s end.

The retailer has ridden the upwave of conscious consumerism with individuals seeking to combat the negative impacts of environmentally damaging procedures, such as surplus food and food waste.

Despite some advisors deterring us from purchasing more stock due to it being such an uncertain time, most of our popular brands had a range of produce which we just couldn’t turn down

This year it has seen a 246 per cent increase in traffic, a 484 per cent growth in orders as well as a ROI of new customers all over Europe. The brand’s reputation is also at an all-time high, with 5* Trust Pilot reviews.

Co-Founder Paul Simpson said: “It has been a significantly challenging period for us all with many businesses unable to survive but we saw a huge opportunity and clear boom within ecommerce so grasped it with both hands.

“Despite some advisors deterring us from purchasing more stock due to it being such an uncertain time, most of our popular brands had a range of produce which we just couldn’t turn down.”

Surviving and thriving

He credits this thinking as the difference between the company surviving and thriving. They have seen increased gaps in the market, listened to and understood its consumers and have been willing to adapt and embrace change and failure.

“It’s interesting because when we were in the business planning stages, way before its launch, we asked ourselves whether we would be able to withstand an economic crisis and the answer was yes.

“We have always embraced failure with open arms, it’s one of the ways we see we can learn and adapt, enabling us to be ahead of our competition and the market place.

“Our online presence has been one of our key successes during this time because it allowed us to attract and retain new customers. Having active social media accounts has enabled us to engage with our consumers on a personal level to understand their needs and be able to act on the back of this.

“Many businesses that had little to no online presence were extremely vulnerable during the Lockdown period and are still recovering now.

“We have been able to prioritise our customer service and we know that our consumers are conscious of product costs and food waste. You just have to look at the number of people furloughed and the fight for free school meals to understand the need to address these issues. This is something we are passionate about.

“Success breeds confidence in who we are and what we are doing and currently we are positive that the way we are operating the business is making an impact.”

SME Autumn 2020
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