EMERGING CBD powerhouse South West is set to launch its first two brands and expects to have a total of six in its portfolio by the middle of 2022.
Having raised £1m to launch the business it has its sights on a further £10m to assemble a group of leading CBD brands
CEO Rebekah Hall believes the industry is entering a period of consolidation and aims to play a leading role shaping its future.
She told BusinessCann: “There are some very interesting brands that have potential, with great concepts and great products, but are potentially under-funded.
Looking At Global Brands
“Perhaps they don’t necessarily have the right team, experience and therein lies an opportunity for the industry to actively take part in consolidation. It is something we intend to do, and we have the expertise in the team to do just that.”
Last year finished on a positive note for the industry with the KanaVape judgement, and South West is looking ahead to a charged 2021, as more and more consumers shop on-line.
Ms Hall continued: “We have big aspirations for the next 18 months. We are not looking to develop with small-scale opportunities. We are looking at global brands – not just the UK and Europe.”
The South West concept has been germinating for some time as Ms Hall, founder of CBD drinks brand Botanic Lab, fine-tuned her focus on the white spaces in the consumer constellation – fuelled by a desire to move beyond the CBD ‘gimmick’ factor (see panel below).
In April it launches its two initial brands; a range of menstrual cycle care and, secondly, and self-care, topical products targeting the under 30s, and it is exploring niches including sports and men’s wellness.
South West’s Brand and Marketing Director Fran Pearce elaborated on the former saying it encompassed a range of products to cover the monthly cycle including pain, cramps, sleep, mood and skin care.
The latter concept will help ‘democratise’ CBD by supporting access to a different deomgraphic. London-based South West will be working with celebrities and influencers on individual brand roll-outs with some targeting this ‘TikTok generation’.
Ms Pearce said: “This won’t be celebrity for celebrity’s sake. What we’re aiming to do is to translate this really exciting ingredient for the consumer – and celebrity is a well-trodden path, in consumer products, to achieve that. “
South West’s all-female executive team comprises four ‘superstars’ from within, and without the industry, with a range of complementary skills, says Ms Hall.
She says the distaff dominance was more by accident than design and its will be diluted with some additional high-profile signings in the coming weeks.
“I know this industry well; I know who the superstars are, and I set out to get the best team. They happen at this stage to be all female, but that won’t continue to be the case.
“It was incredibly important for me to build a strong team and I knew this industry lacked expertise from outside the wider consumer products sphere.”
Also on the team are: CFO Jolyn Teoh, a global equities and capital markets specialist, CCO Lisa Shapiro, an international brand and licensing consumer products expert and Herd Lifestyle founder Hannah Skingle, as operations director.
Arrival Of CPG Players Imminent
Assembling a portfolio of leading brands under an umbrella organisation has resonance with £4bn on-line beauty giant The Hut Group – an analogy Ms Hall embraces.
Although South West Brands will maintain a focus on the ‘last mile of the consumer experience’ and align with trusted partners in delivering support services.
As a pathway to regulatory certainty for the CBD industry clears through initiatives such as Novel Foods, more and more of the major international food, drink and beauty brands will inevitably find their way into CBD.
Ms Hall added: “It will be hugely positive step when the main brands become involved in our industry. I do not see it as a threat.
“The big CPG (consumer packaged goods) players do not build brands – they buy brands. But for now we’re focussing-in on the task at hand; building brands, acquiring brands and bringing consumer relevance to the industry.”
UK cannabis investors Fast Forward Innovations is supporting South West with £250,000. Its CEO Ed McDermott, said: “We believe SWB has a first-mover advantage in this exciting market. We are very much looking forward to working closely with Rebekah and her team.”
The global CBD market currently features thousands of brands and is estimated to reach a total value of almost $40bn by 2032, say Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
COLOURING IN THE WHITE SPACES
Ms Hall elaborates on her vision for South West Brands:
“The starting point for South West is this; Where is the white space? Where is the need?
“There is only so long you can trade in the gimmick factor of CBD having come from cannabis. We have almost gone past that now from a consumer point of view.
“In a way I get frustrated seeing it repeatedly in the press, it almost universally plays on that factor, which I think is to the detriment of the wider industry.
“What we need to do is make our brands relevant to the consumer; because they need these products in their lives, because it makes a difference to their lives
“And that’s not necessarily because it contains CBD, it may be because it is a product that hasn’t existed before.
“The relevance for the consumer is in creating a brand or product that they didn’t know they needed, but they realise they really do.
“The addition of CBD makes it efficacious, makes it interesting and elevates it to a new level. But it is not the reason it is relevant to them.”