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Tenacious Labs CEO discusses its acquisition of Press Pause

Cannabinoid group Tenacious Labs has acquired the Denver-based consumer brand Press Pause to bring female-focused CBD products to the UK market. 

Headquartered in London, international cannabinoid group that champions scientific rigour, regulation, and product quality, Tenacious Labs, recently announced its acquisition of the CBD brand Press Pause. 

Co-founded by CEO Nicholas Morland, a qualified chartered accountant with experience in private equity, and CCO Adrain Clarke, who has experience in the international spirits and premium discretionary spend area, Tenacious Labs’ acquisition of Press Pause marks a milestone in the Group’s strategy, providing it with an established direct-to-consumer brand from the US that will now reach the UK market. 

Founded by Dawn Fable in 2018, Press Pause creates CBD products for female wellbeing such as balms, bath bombs, tinctures and capsules with a focus on improving mood and sleep. 

Establishing a US brand in the UK

Press Pause currently has consumers across the US through its e-commerce website and says it champions itself on clean and natural ingredients, cruelty-free products, and effective formulations. Tenacious Labs, which is looking to list in the UK and NASDAQ in two to three years, aims to bring its female-focused products to the UK to drive the international growth of Press Pause. Fable’s role at Press Pause will focus on creating new products in line with the brand’s mission to help promote the importance of self-care. 

“We have been in the process of investing just under $10m in making acquisitions in order to give us speed to market both in the US and UK,” said Morland. “The UK is very important, as it is highly representative of the rest of the world as being somewhere where you can get traction in the market, so we are post-income in both the UK and the US and have acquired two or three businesses and their respective founders who are now members of the senior management team.

“The best example is Press Pause which has a loyal following of customers. Founder Dawn Fable is now head of lifestyle for Tenacious Labs worldwide, where her first job post-acquisition is working out how to take the products from the US into the UK, and the rest of the world, effectively. Dawn has built up a wonderful loyal following but had no way of taking it to the next stage, and we have got a business that has been deliberately designed around having space and budget for somebody like her. 

“The market is very fragmented, and Press Pause addresses the market fact that the consumers are more sophisticated than the suppliers. The people buying these products are better informed and interested in communicating with each other more than the people in our industry. What we particularly like about Press Pause and Dawn is her momentum and engagement with her sophisticated and representative audience – they are educated, informed and interested, and there is nothing specific to the US about that. The characteristics that have made Press Pause successful over there are the same ones we have been looking for over here and elsewhere.”

Morland highlighted that 84 per cent of purchases of CBD products are made by women rather than men and that 85 per cent of search queries for CBD are related to anxiety and sleep. 

“It made sense to us to find a woman who has established a brand in a very fragmented environment, with a genuine passion for it, that has been sustained over a number of years, with consumers who are very loyal and who are coming back. Dawn is selling customers products for anxiety and not being able to sleep – so it seemed to be the best fit for the consumer, for the business, and for the brand she has developed to date.

“It has been massive convergence –  there have been the mechanical difficulties of finding alternatives to melatonin for the sleep formulation, for example – these things are very material and take months to sort, but once done, we are comfortable that the way in which Dawn has appealed in the US will appeal over here as well.”

Advancing the UK market

Morland highlighted that Tenacious Labs is keen on the development of regulation and market maturation in the UK. 

“We hope we are at the leading edge of the second wave as a new sector becomes professional, rather than the tail end of the first wave. Whether it is mobile phones or commodities, it is not new to have a new sector developing, and likewise, the sector itself isn’t new in that post-prohibition is exactly the same thing as with alcohol, where we want to turn it into something you can tax and regulate,” says Morland, who sits as chairperson of Jersey’s new Cannabis Services Advisory Board.

“This market is a very complicated space and we are very pro-regulation rather than against it – it needs to be regulated and taxed. Alcohol spent 20 to 40 years learning how to do this properly – we don’t want to criminalise 90% of the population and done right it is something that is good for tax, good for business and good for not forcing money into the hands of the wrong people. What we have found is that it is not fully mature as a sector yet, and people find it difficult to access the support they need such as accountants, banks and lawyers.

“Jersey is the poster child for doing it right – what we would like to see here is exactly the same thing. We would like to see an industry advisory group here, engagement with the Home Office at an appropriate level and the intent to start legalising in practice what people have only talked about legalising in theory. There is just not enough structure to allow it to happen so, there needs to be more regulation and it needs to be done properly.”

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