Bury-based British beauty and healthcare product manufacturer, Faith In Nature, has, with the support of the Hub, more than doubled its turnover and increased staff head count following a major rebrand and the introduction of new manufacturing techniques.
As ethical and sustainable products move higher up the agenda for businesses and consumers as part of a concerted response to the international climate emergency, manufacturing companies are becoming increasingly competitive when it comes to choosing the right ingredients, materials and production processes.
Those businesses that have already trodden the path towards a sustainable future are not only reaping the benefits but playing an important role in educating others in how to make sound judgements and decisions.
Faith In Nature is one such business that is looking to inspire people to better connect with the environment – something which its employees know a thing or two about as the company enters its sixth decade of trading.
Here we find out from Faith In Nature’s Operations Director, Jason McNeil, how the business has risen to recent challenges and been supported along the way by GC Business Growth Hub.
Hi Jason. Please tell us a little about your business - what is it and how was it founded?
Faith In Nature has a very colourful history. It was founded by Rivka Rose who arrived in Scotland from New York and wanted to produce natural, ethical products at affordable prices. This was back in the early 70’s, long before most people were consciously looking to purchase products that are natural and ethical in terms of their base ingredients.
The company was born from the concept of making access to natural health products truly affordable – thinking that was about 30 years ahead of its time.
As society has matured in its thinking around sustainable products, lots of consumers have seen our brand, looked at the range of products, and made an informed decision to start making purchases from us. That all important decision process has been helped recently by our most successful rebrand which took place a few years ago.
GC Business Growth Hub provided advice on our rebranding and with their support to secure some funding, a specialist agency was brought in to work with our team and introduce confident, vibrant new artwork.
As part of this process we also reorganised the management structure internally, and spent a lot of time thinking about the business and how it was presented to the market.
The company has come a long way in the 47 years since it was founded and our recent growth, owing to the success of the rebrand, has been quite rapid. The accolades that our products have received over the years have been ten-fold, recognising both the sustainability and performance of the products.
When and why did you first make contact with GC Business Growth Hub?
We’ve been in contact with the Hub for a number of years and in that time they’ve supported Faith In Nature in a multitude of ways by providing timely advice on areas such as the rebrand, and helping make introductions to new contacts and services. The Hub has delivered assessments of our business and then presented solutions and opportunities. Before their involvement, we were selling to specialist healthcare shops but since the rebrand we’ve launched into Boots and secured contracts with major supermarket chains and retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Monoprix (in France).
As part of our work with the Hub, we have access to a dedicated Manufacturing Advisor, Martin Hyman. He will always take the time to listen and to understand any issues. He’ll try and look at things from different angles and perspectives. Even if he doesn’t have answers immediately, he takes problems away to work on them until he’s found something that can add value, which he then brings back as a proposal.
The Hub also recently provided a digital assessment of the business via an introduction by Martin to Made Smarter and they’ve supported us continually with advice – The Hub have assisted with communications around Covid-19 and throughout the pandemic and they’ve worked with our finance team as well as on the operational side.
How else has support from the Hub helped you?
As part of our rebranding and relaunch supported by the Hub, we introduced two new conditioner products and a refills range which have been hugely successful and popular with national retail outlets such as Holland and Barrett and Boots. Access to the Local Growth Fund and support with other funding applications such as ERDF has supported the rebrand and in turn has led to 22 new employees taking up a variety of exciting new roles. Advice from the Hub throughout the Covid-19 pandemic meanwhile, has helped us to minimise disruption and keep operations underway.
Following the recent digital assessment by the Hub, we’re now exploring options that will help to improve efficiencies.
We’ve also been supported with some lean manufacturing training from the Hub in early 2021. This has introduced new techniques to improve our output by increasing efficiencies and productivity. As a minimum, we’ve seen a 30% increase in productivity through this training programme.
How has working with the Hub made a difference to your business?
In addition to the new identity and major uplift that they’ve helped us to achieve, the Hub team is well connected with local authorities and everything that’s going on in the region. This is invaluable to our business because they keep their ear to the ground and pull together information – on topics like new government guidelines and business assistance programmes –that is then presented to us in a way that can add real value. This is hugely important because it’s information that connects us to parts of the bigger picture that we wouldn’t otherwise have visibility of.
Whether it’s information about training, funding, expert advice or reaching new markets, they allow us to tap into something extra. For example, we’re currently in the process of moving to a new site and the Hub has introduced us to a consultant who specialises in the heating of buildings.
From this we’ve been able to make an informed decision about the different types of heating available – which options are most sustainable, cost effective, and long-lasting. The Hub can always point us towards a source of information that is well informed and offers meaningful data. Because they keep up with government policies, legislation, and trends within individual businesses and across the region’s sectors, it makes life so much easier.
Based on your experience with the Hub, what advice can you offer to other entrepreneurs and business owners?
Working with the Hub brings the potential to mitigate issues that your business may face in future. They’re quick and proactive. Even just being on their email distribution list adds value because they keep you up to date on what’s happening locally and at a Government level.
If you’re looking at embarking on a new business adventure, starting up a business, or making changes to your strategy, take the opportunity to ask them for support because they are the best source of information to keep you up to speed.
Most importantly they have a clear understanding of what the Government or local authorities can offer your business as a way of generating value, whether that’s through access to funds or other available solutions. While some companies may choose to take this journey on their own, there’s a chance they could miss out on some expert support or funding by not tapping into the Hub.