North East start-up capitalises on UK’s growing appetite for seaweed

A Tyne and Wear business selling products made from seaweed is expanding across the UK as Britons strive to cut their intake of meat and embrace a more plant-based diet.

Seaweed & Co., founded by a marine biologist from the North East, already sells its range of culinary oils infused with seaweed and seaweed nutritional supplements in Holland and Barrett and Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.

However, with a growing interest in seaweed-based products, Seaweed & Co. is attracting interest from other major retailers.

Seaweed & Co.’s Weed & Wonderful range of culinary oils is now also available in Lakeland stores across the UK and its Pure Organic Seaweed Capsules are launching in select Boots stores and on Boots.com this month.

The Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2019, which reported on last year’s food and drinks trends, listed seaweed alongside noodles and tahini as one of the foods that “led the way this year”. Its analysts said that searches for “aanori seaweed” were up 127% as growing numbers of Britons embrace “Seaganism”, a vegan diet which includes sustainable food sourced from the sea.

Dr. Craig Rose, 40, who founded Seaweed & Co., had always been fascinated by the sea and had dreamt about creating a business that was environmentally and commercially sustainable.

Seeing that people were becoming increasingly conscious about where their food came from, he approached Virgin StartUp for a £25,000 Start Up Loan to launch his company.

The business began by supplying food and nutrition manufacturers with a range of seaweed products sourced exclusively from the Outer Hebrides. Last summer Craig launched his own consumer-facing brand, Doctor Seaweed’s Weed and Wonderful, which has gone on to receive a Great Taste award.

Craig Rose, Founder of Seaweed & Co., said: “I’ve always been an advocate of the benefits of seaweed and launched Seaweed & Co. after noticing the trend towards healthier and ethically-sourced food. It’s brilliant to see that I was right to take the chance on an alternative product, and a forgotten food.

“It’s a huge milestone for the business to have launched nationwide in Lakeland, and in good time to offer people some great tasting and healthy New Year inspirations. We’re also excited to have expanded to such an iconic British store as Boots and are looking forward to further expansion during 2020. None of this would have been possible without the support and advice we received from Start Up Loans.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “We’re delighted to have helped Craig kickstart such a fantastic business. Growing a business can be tough and his success shows what’s possible when you combine a great idea with passion and determination.”

Andy Fishburn, Managing Director, Virgin StartUp, said: “Virgin StartUp is proud to have supported Craig and the team at Seaweed and Co. Craig is a true entrepreneur who saw a niche gap in the market and created mainstream demand for it. We love to see brands like Seaweed and Co. promoting a more sustainable lifestyle and look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength.”

The Start Up Loans programme provides fixed-interest loans of £500 to £25,000 to aspiring business owners from across the UK, many of whom might be struggling to access other forms of finance. Since 2012, it has lent more than £551 million through 68,600 loans, of which over £31 million went to business owners from the North East.

In addition to finance, Start Up Loan applicants receive support from an experienced business advisor to help them prepare a business plan and cash flow report. Successful applicants are also offered 12-months of free mentoring to guide them through the early stages of their business journey.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:

Olivia Tomblin

Olivia.Tomblin@mhpc.com

(0)20 3128 8721

Notes to editors

For recipe inspirations using Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful culinary oils, please see: https://www.seaweedandco.com/weed-and-wonderful-recipes/

The Lakeland launch will include two of the range:

  • Pure Scottish Seaweed Infused Oil
  • Smoked Scottish Seaweed Infused Oil

The Start-Up Loans Company, part of the British Business Bank, was formed in June 2012. The Start Up Loans scheme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.

The primary aim of the Start Up Loans scheme is to ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive. A network of Delivery Partner organisations support applicants in all regions and industries throughout the UK. The Start Up Loans scheme is not designed to generate a commercial profit. Capital payments together with the interest are recycled to help meet our customers’ increasing demand for finance.

Free guides on a range of subjects related to starting a business are available on the Start Up Loans website: https://www.startuploans.co.uk/free-start-up-guides/. You can find recent media press releases here: https://www.startuploans.co.uk/media-centre/.

The funding for the Start Up Loans scheme is provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Start-Up Loans Company is a subsidiary of the British Business Bank. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, enabling the sector to prosper, grow and build economic activity. Their Business Finance Guide explores finance options and the journey from start-up to growth. Access the Business Finance Guide here: http://www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb

Key Statistics

The following figures are drawn from data on delivery of loans up to 30th September 2019.

* Since 2012, the Start Up Loans scheme has delivered more than 67,000 loans, providing more than £534m of funding.

* In the financial year 2018/19, the scheme provided 7,869 loans with a total value of approximately £83m – helping to support around 22 businesses every day of the year.

* Since 2012, 35% of loan recipients were formerly unemployed or economically inactive.

* 15% of loan recipients since 2012 were aged between 18 and 24.

* Loan recipients report estimated average turnover of £42,000 in the first year after they have drawn their loan down.

For more information about Start Up Loans, please visit: https://www.startuploans.co.uk/

All these statistics are gross estimates, with the exception of the return on investment numbers, and are based upon Start Up Loans CRM and externally commissioned research undertaken by SQW Ltd, with support from BMG Research.

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