Tailored support from Access to Finance Lancashire has helped a CBD oils business to secure the finance needed to successfully shift sales of its products online and launch two new ranges.
With lockdown having had a massive impact on sales, Garstang-based CBD One began working with Access to Finance (A2F) Lancashire to investigate ways of funding the business as it prepared to push sales online. CBD One has developed a range of products that use CBD oil, a legal product derived from hemp, which is proving increasingly popular as a supplement that can improve health and well-being.
The company sells CBD through a range of oils, patches and CBD-infused skin creams. Before lockdown, 75% of the company’s business was through wholesale and selling directly to health food stores, with just a small proportion of sales online. But with orders dropping as the High Street was forced to close, business owner Alex Tofalos started to look at the web as a way of boosting sales. He had already started to look at selling online and directly to customers before COVID-19, and this original research was soon to pay off.
Alex teamed up with Caroline Turley, a specialist advisor at Access to Finance (A2F) Lancashire, to work out the best way of funding a switch to online sales. Caroline suggested a funding strategy that was forecast-led, with the key that the projections were feasible and achievable, and demonstrated what the business had already achieved in a format which funders could easily understand. Using the forecasts, Alex was successful in pitching to Rosebud, a local authority funding programme targeted at Lancashire businesses, and securing a loan.
“Not only did Caroline help to prepare the pitch, but she helped cut through the jargon too and prepare us for the type of questions that the funders were likely to ask us,” says Alex. The cash injection, along with a Government Bounce Back loan, gave the business fresh impetus and a way to fully develop their website and online strategy. This led to a huge 400% growth in online activity, and within 12 months they had replaced the business they had lost at the start of lockdown with an 85% growth in online sales. The business was also referred to and subsequently accepted into the subsidised commercial scaleup programme run by Lancashire County Council, Route into Retail while also completing a Preparing for Investment course with the University of Central Lancashire.
The substantial package of support has allowed Alex to move ahead with the launch of two new products. The first is a range of shots that can be added to drinks - from smoothies to lattes - which will be sold through coffee shops and sandwich bars; the second is hemp-based Hatcha powder, which can be used in baking. The new range is set to be launched at the London Coffee Festival in September. Alex is now looking for new investors, in particular individuals that can help to support the business’ growth but also bring expertise to the company. “It has been an incredibly difficult 18 months for so many companies but there is help out there if you’re prepared to look,” adds Alex. “Working with Access to Finance Lancashire has opened doors to new ways of finding finance, while allowing us to grow the business and stay in control of where we want to the company to go.”
Funded via the European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund, and by Lancashire County Council, Access to Finance Lancashire provides local businesses with fully funded support to help them source the finance they need to unlock business growth. Finance specialists, with expert knowledge of public and private sector funding channels, help to identify the most relevant sources of funding, offer support around financial forecasting, and help business owners become investment ready before discussions with potential investors. Access to Finance Lancashire can be accessed via Boost by contacting 0800 488 0057 or contacting us online.
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