Saturday 20 July 2019

Supplement firm in Brexit-beating factory switch

Nutritional producer backed by Supermac's founder has opened new Irish base, writes Samantha McCaughren

Daithi O'Connor managing director and founder of Revive active.
Daithi O'Connor managing director and founder of Revive active.

Galway-based nutritional supplements business Revive Active has opened a manufacturing plant in Ireland to reduce its exposure to Brexit.

The company, which is majority owned by former banker Daithi O'Connor and backed by Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh, has used a manufacturer in Wales for a number of years.

With Brexit looming, O'Connor took action last year by securing a 10,000 sq ft facility in Mullingar, which has just begun to manufacture for the Irish market.

The company's products, which include supplements designed specifically for children and teenagers, are sold in 1,000 stores across the island of Ireland, constituting 75pc of the company's turnover. Sales were €5m in 2018, a 25pc increase on the previous year. "Our plan for this year is to grow turnover by 35pc, which will bring us in excess of €7m," said O'Connor.

The Irish company has been making an impact in the competitive supplements market due to its all natural ingredients. These include Wellmune, a product from Kerry Group which is derived from yeast and is clinically proven to naturally strengthen immune cells.

The UK is a strong market for the company, with products stocked in a small number of stores such as Selfridges, but sold mostly online.

Speaking about Brexit-proofing the business, O'Connor said: "I have looked at insulating ourselves. First of all, we have Ireland covered. If there is a hard Border, which I hope never happens, we'll have to supply Northern Ireland from Wales. And we are avoiding all cross-border trade.

"We can see this as an opportunity because other companies importing into the UK will have to pay duties. Whereas we will be making it over there and supplying the market."

O'Connor hopes to launch in the US within the next six months. "It is highly competitive and we are doing competitive analysis and have taken on Ogilvy as our marketing partners," he said. "The opportunity for us in the States is endless. It's just a matter of how we go about it and being clever."

The company plans to launch in New York and 'prove' the product before rolling it in the rest of the States. It has hired a number of former senior staff members from Lifes2Good, which sold its hair supplements business Viviscal to Dwight & Church in 2017 for €150m. Tom Tierney, ex-CFO of Lifes2Good, is a consultant to Revive Active, for example. The company is expanding its range and has just launched Zest Active, aimed at 20- to 35-year-olds.

O'Connor, who has a background in finance services, said that he became involved in the supplements business 'by accident'.

After working for a number of banks, he set up his own financial services business in 2005 but his interest in supplements was piqued at a time when he was seeking a career change. "I was looking for something new to do, I wanted a change out of banking."

O'Connor pulled together a team of health and nutrition experts, launching the business in 2011. "I said 'let's try and make the best product possible."

Pharmacies and health food shops were supportive from an early stage and customers reacted well to the product, with demand growing steadily. "It was really small beginnings but the confidence grew from there."

He raised €1m in 2013 from private investors through an EIIS scheme, all of which has since been bought out.

When the company launched in 2011, it employed two people and that number will hit 35 by the end of this month.

Sunday Indo Business

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