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Sporting investment aids expansion

Thursday 1 November 2012 2:00

An ethical sports and wellbeing brand developed in the North East has received a major angel investment for expansion from two of the region’s businesswomen.

Newcastle-based Natural Hero, which was founded by entrepreneur Louise Vincent, launched its first range last year has now been backed with £120,000 from  Fiona Cruickshank and Sara Davies, who are both members of investment group Gabriel Investors.

This has been joined with £100,000 funding from Northstar Venture’s Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund.

The non-medicinal body care range was born out of research with sports physiotherapists along with formulation and plant scientists at Newcastle University, to bring naturally formulated body care to sports recovery.

Manufactured in the North, the brand is aimed at the booming outdoor and active market in the UK and positioned as an environmentally-friendly, feel good alternative to existing training and recovery products.

Louise Vincent, sales director and founder at Natural Hero, said: “I am delighted that the business has gained investment from such well-respected business professionals like Fiona and Sara along with Northstar Ventures as it will allow us to take the company to the next level.

“Although the financial injection will of course play a key role in helping us scale-up production, obtain bigger office space, gain more listings and raise awareness of the brand, it is their mentoring and practical experience that provides invaluable assistance.

“The business is heading in the right direction and we expect to see a real boom in the sports and wellbeing market post-London 2012. Our Natural Hero products are well positioned to assist retailers in expanding their sports recovery and pain relief categories with something much more in keeping with what the modern active consumer demands.’’

Natural Hero recently secured an initial trial with 56 Holland & Barratt stores. This follows wins from several other major retailers including Fenwick, Wholefoods, Snow & Rock and Sweatshop.

Fiona Cruickshank built successful pharmaceutical companies in the North East including SCM Pharma, while Sara Davies runs Country Durham-based crafts supply business Crafter’s Companion.

Both are part of Gabriel Investors, which offers investment of £5,000 - £100,000 and expertise to ambitious, growing businesses.