Sustainable food store flourishes with Business Gateway support
A zero-waste retail shop has adapted its business model to continue trading throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Following advice and support from Business Gateway, Broughty Ferry-based, Love Your Planet, has seen a 22% increase in sales since March.
Launched in September 2019 the sustainable food store – with over 75 dispensers filled with essential items such as pasta, rice, flour and pulses – is on a mission to reduce packaging and food waste.
After the introduction of the lockdown in March and seeking advice from her Business Gateway adviser, Love Your Planet founder, Debbie Gallacher, decided to keep the shop open to serve the local community. Since, she has seen an increased demand for her products such as dew disinfectant and hand sanitisers, which has soared by 253%, while dry good sales increased by 68% when compared to the previous quarter.
Business Gateway also provided advice on funding, HR and marketing during this period. Additionally, the team helped Debbie launch a new website that enables customers to shop using click and collect or delivery service for the business.
To support wider efforts to tackle COVID-19, Love Your Planet also introduced a three-person limit in store and installed additional hand sanitisation stations to provide a safe space for people to shop for essential items in the most eco-friendly way.
Debbie commented: “The first thing I did when lockdown was announced was call my Business Gateway adviser, Stuart. Since then, he has offered continued support and kept us up to date on crucial guidance from Business Gateway, local council, or government. It is because of this advice that we continued trading throughout this challenging period. It was sink or swim, so we quickly adapted our business to meet the demand and – most importantly, help our customers.
“We have also published our first newsletter which offers advice for reducing plastic. In the first edition we show how easy it is to grow your own herb garden using toilet roll tubes or eggshells, therefore reducing the amount of plastic in the home.”
Debbie’s daughter Caragh was made redundant from her job as a call centre representative and has been employed on a full-time contract to operate and expand the delivery side of Love Your Planet.
Debbie continued: “When lockdown was announced, we had to think about how we could make it easier for people isolating to buy healthy, nutritious and essential items. That is why we quickly introduced an online delivery service which has proved very popular across Tayside.
“Last month we extended our delivery zone to cover the whole of the UK, now we’re even stretching as far as London. It is awful that my daughter’s work situation had been compromised because of the pandemic, but we are fortunate that she has been able to support the family business during these challenging times.
“My Business Gateway adviser, Stuart, has been a constant source of knowledge and inspiration, encouraging me to go beyond my comfort zone and adapt my business model to help keep customers stocked up with essential items that have been difficult to source from many large supermarkets.”
Stuart Milne, Business Adviser, Business Gateway Tayside, commented: “It is a pleasure to see that, by adapting her business model and finding new ways to communicate and supply customers during these times of hardship, Debbie and the team at Love Your Planet are managing to effectively mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Our next step is to work with the company on a social media strategy to reach more customers through the newly introduced online delivery service.
“As the country continues to adapt to the effects of COVID-19, Business Gateway is committed to providing support to SMEs who are navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic. Whether you are starting up, diversifying, or growing your business, Business Gateway Tayside is on hand to help across the region, and beyond.”
For support and advice on critical business issues during the pandemic visit our dedicated Coronavirus Hub which is updated with new information daily.