Submitted by: Luscious Organic Ltd.
Categories: Corporate Governance
Posted: Jul 07, 2002 – 12:00 AM EST
Jul. 07 /CSRwire/ - LONDON, England - A Uk based couple who run Luscious Organic - (Europe’s first chain of hip not hippy organic corner stores and Luscious Low Fat Cafes and are known as London’s Low Fat Couple) has launched a global organic investors club aimed at helping small and big time investors in London and the UK who want to put money into organic companies hook up with potential ‘green and organic companies’ on a global scale even if they only have $500 to invest.
Husband and wide team, Alison Rose and Tony Guy who moved to the U.K from Australia 4 years ago to set up Luscious Organic - the UK’s first ‘ hip not hippy’ organic convenience store chain - got the idea for the Club after people kept asking how they could invest in the business and colleagues in the business and their friends started asking for advice on finding investors. They also saw an opportunity for Australian producers or investors to buy into the growing UK market as 75% of organic product is imported to the UK. Alison and Tony have made contact with more than 300 Australian, American, Asian South African and Asian producers eager to sell to the UK and as part of growing their company are establishing a Luscious Organic Import/Export Arm as well as helping other organic businesses fined funding. "To kick off the Club we’re offering people the chance to look at investing in our business or forming a group of people - say 10 producers and putting in a sum each and getting shares and helping us get their product to the UK."
"We realised there was no specific Club or database focused on organic investing. There are green funds or brokers but often they don’t have direct organic industry contacts. And what if someone has £500 or up to £5 million or £5 billionand want to make contact directly with a company but don’t know how to go about it? We want to help the organic community grow by taking a positive and pro-active step," said Alison and Tony.
"There we so many people with as little as £500 to invest who care about a green future or the organic industry as well as big companies looking to invest green - we thought we’d take the initiative and set up this unique club," said Alison.
Alison grew up on a farm at Bingara in Australia and ended up anchoring news and Health New Australia on Sky TV in Australia and in Hong Kong before making a life change to move to the Uk with her New Zealand husband Tony Guy, a former TV reporter and the Executive Producer of Australia’s number one business show - The Small Business and together with Tony wrote the first ever-low fat cookbook to be published in the Uk, which sold out in 3 weeks.
"With Luscious Organic as we’re from aussie we’d love to see groups of people putting in small amounts to buy a group of shares and perhaps they are producers and then they can help facilitate to the export arm to the UK. Or if they want to hoop up with other types of organic businesses we can do that too."
"The fact is the future is green and it’s organic and if people want to dabble with £500 to billions then we want to assist them finding companies they might like to look at and at the same time help companies in out organic sector find funds," said Tony.
The database will be one way, people who have money to invest or are even considering investing anything from £500 to £10 million can register their names, area of interest and amount they’d consider investing. They can do this via email, a postal address or a phone number. Then organic companies wanting investment can contact us with their needs and we will tell any potential investor. It is then up to the investor to contact that company. This means the potential investors details are kept confidential and it’s up to them to contact the company.
"We want to ensure anyone with money to invest remains anonymous until they choose to contact a company. That way they are protected. Companies wanting investment can contact us, fill out an information form with as much or as little information as they want to offer up and we can then send it on to potential investors. The investors will only get limited information including business name, contact, money required and area the company operates in. It’s then up to the investor to contact the company and the company wanting investment to follow correct procedure and have confidentiality forms filled in and have a business pan ready for reading," she said.
Currently there is no fee involved and a website is being developed to promote the Club.
"There are many business angel and venture capital groups but many small time investors and large companies don’t have a Club or Database they can contact if they want to ‘invest organic or go green with their money.’ Investing in organic companies is becoming very popular and even if you have £500 to invest we can help you find a way to ‘dabble’ with your money to ‘test your market’. For larger companies we offer a way to invest larger sums in companies that are organic producers or retailers or wholesalers who are certified organic and meet due diligence," said Tony.
The latest research shows the organic retail sector is growing at 35% a year and was worth £1 billion last year in the Uk and Globally is growing at an extraordinary rate.
"More people than ever before are buying organic and organic groups and even HRH Prince Charles are encouraging more farmers in the UK to ‘go organic. 75% of organic produce sold in the U.K is imported and the market is wide open but how do people know how to get started if they want to ‘go organic.’ When we started looking for funding for our business we made thousands of phone calls, and didn’t really know who to turn to. Now we want to help other companies and the industry as a whole benefit," said Alison. "We want out experience to be a learning mechanism and a chance to assist other companies like ours."
Alison and Tony established Luscious Ltd 4 years ago and it now includes 13 shops and cafes, which have taken a unique niche position in the rapidly expanding UK health and organic markets. Luscious Low Fat runs 11 cafes, including 9 within the Holmes Place Health Club Chain (A PLC company) and in 2001 doubled its turnover. The Low Fat café chain provides the same organic juice and coffee bar as in the convenience stores but also provide a range of healthy option and decadent and indulgent product offered in a low fat fashion.
Established in 1998 Luscious Ltd opened with one store. The company then took on £650,000 in equity-based investment at the start of 2000 with the deal to add another 6 stores to the chain. Instead investors got 13 units including a lateral integration of the Luscious Organic concept, a website and a book deal. Luscious the Low Fat Cook Book is being published in January by Vermillion - an arm of Random House. Ms Rose has also authored 2 small business books for Hodder and Stoughton and Mr Guy was the Executive Producer of the Small Business Show, an award-winning programme on Channel 9 TV in Australia.
"We have more than doubled investor expectations and grown the company in a way no one expected. We’ve taken advantage of market niches and positioned ourselves as leaders in 2 areas - low fat eating and organic convenience stores," said Co-Managing Director, Tony Guy." Now because of demand to open more health club based cafes and more organic convenience stores the company has decided to seek third round funding," said Mr Guy.
The cafes sell low fat and organic products and the corner store chain is a hip not hippy approach to organic retailing and is Soil Association and Organic Food Federation Certified.
"We want to give something back and make the organic industry the best it can be. We know so many organic companies that do amazing things with small or large investment," said Tony.
"We have more than doubled investor expectations and grown the company in a way no one expected. We’ve taken advantage of market niches and positioned ourselves as leaders in 2 areas - low fat eating and organic convenience stores," said Co-Managing Director, Tony Guy. "We learned about finding money the hard way and we now hope this club can help other companies and a range of small and large investors."
Investors wanting to register their interest in investing should email: Alison@luscious.co.uk, cc: email@example.com with either an email address, phone or fax contact. They will be sent a simple questionnaire and can choose to fill in what information they want. Everything remains confidential. In Australia, Alison’s aunt who is an organic farmer is also acting as a contact point in North Western NSW.
Any company seeking investment will also be asked to complete simple questionnaire which includes company name or area if they wish to remain confidential, amount wanted and for what. That information will be circulated to all Investor Club members and if they choose to contact the company they can - what happens next is up to the separate parties. We are just an introductory service.
"It’s then up to investors and companies accepting investment to do their own due diligence, organise the transaction, deal with their own legal teams and so on - getting people connected is what this Club is all about."
Luscious was established when former TV anchor and reporters Alison and Tony arrived from Australia with an idea 4 years ago. They had $15,000 each and the determination to make the business a reality. Now they have 13 stores, more than 100 staff and a turnover of more than one point five million pounds.