On the up · 11 January 2016

Pip & Nut: The healthy food brand putting taste first

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The founder  of Pip & Nut is most proud of the enthusiastic response from customers, especially on Instagram

With “clean eating” on the rise, young company Pip & Nut has attracted the interest of Selfridges, Sainsbury’s and Whole Foods by focusing on products which are delicious first, and healthy second.

The company is predicting first year revenues of £600,000, and its founder spoke to Business Advice about how this has been achieved through great relationships with customers, stockists and suppliers.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

I’m Pippa Murray, founder of all-natural food brand Pip & Nut. Our mission is to make healthy food more accessible by introducing new flavours and innovative packaging formats.

(2) How long has Pip and Nut been around for?

We launched just over a year ago, and have grown quite quickly. Pip & Nut is now stocked in 1300 different UK stores, but we focused initially on approaching the right stockists at the right time, starting with Selfridges before expanding into large chains.

(3) How do you make money?

It’s really challenging in this category, because there is a lot of competition. But what has really helped is that while our price point is accessible, we’re still a premium brand, so we’re not competing on being the very cheapest. We’ve also been fortunate to have really supportive stockists. When we launched in Sainsbury’s three months ago we gave them a period of exclusivity, and in return they’ve been really helpful partners.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

Our approach is very much flavour first, function second – our nut butters are first and foremost delicious, but also healthy.

Our product also brings something new to the category because it’s much cleaner, without the palm oil and sweeteners that many other nut butters contain.

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“Surround yourself with people you can learn from” Pippa Murray’s advice to other small business owners

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

The Crowdcube campaign which we did before launching was really important. We raised £120,000 before we’d started selling Pip & Nut products, and I think having that investment at the start was invaluable. Working with suppliers to get better payment terms, and with customers to negotiate getting paid sooner, rather than within the 45 or 60 days that are standard, has also been incredibly useful.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

It’s been great that big customers are so excited about the brand, and launching in Whole Foods was a particular ambition of mine so it was exciting when they agreed to stock Pip & Nut. But what I’m most proud of is the response from customers. We have 13,000 followers, and that is growing every month. Nut butter is a fantastic ingredient to use in so many dishes, so we get lots of tags and lots of people talking about us. Our core fans are doing marketing for us which is better than anything we could do ourselves. You can’t buy that sort of engagement.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?

For me cash flow has been really challenging, as we’ve had to scale up quickly to respond to the enthusiastic response we’ve had from big retailers. Being able to anticipate demand has been hard – and as a small business with a small budget there really is no margin for error.

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(8) In five years’ time, I will be…

A household brand, hopefully. We want to be in all the major multiple retailers, with an expanded product offering covering lots of different nut related products.

We’re also looking at exporting to Europe, starting with the Netherlands. Expanding globally is definitely on the cards, although we’ve got to balance that against fulfilling all the UK orders we’ve had.

(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?

The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with people you can learn from, so you can take on board their mistakes and not have to make them yourself. Find a mentor whose business is at the stage you want yours to be at in five years’ time. Running your own company is stressful, especially when you’re a sole founder like me, so having someone who has been there themselves and can support you is invaluable.

(10) Who are your business heroes and why?

Giles Brook, the EMEA CEO of Vita Coco, is incredibly commercially savvy but also has the entrepreneurial approach that you need when building a brand from the ground up. Ella’s Kitchen is really inspiring too. Paul Lindley has transformed the way children’s food is produced and marketed.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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