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UK CBD Pioneers To More Than Double Sales To Over £6m Following Canadian Takeover

CBD brand Love Hemp has been turbo-charged following its purchase by North American investors as it looks set to more than double revenues over the coming year.

Established by Tony Calamita and Tom Rowland, Love Hemp was one of the pioneers of the European CBD scene when launched in 2015.

It posted UK sales of £2.6m in the last year and – in a market set to be worth £400m by 2021 – it is seeking to boost revenues to over £6m in the coming year.

Tony Calamita. Photo credit: Simon Jacobs

Mr Calamita told BusinessCann the duo started off with a basic e-commerce site and now have a presence in many of the UK’s main retailers – with more set to follow.

“We are two of the pioneers of the UK CBD sector. We have been in the industry for five years, are known, trusted and credible, and our products are unmatched for quality and price

“Our aim to bring awareness to the industry, and support our customers with lots of effort around education and awareness.

“We have background in FMCG and e-commerce. When we came across CBD it was pretty much non-existent in the UK, but we saw its potential and have seen it now grow to a stage where it’s mainstream and widely accessible.”

Love Hemp’s success has seen it secure listings in over 1,000 stores including main retailers; Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Holland & Barrett, WH Smith and Boots.

It now employs 40 people and delivers a range of over 80 products, including oils, sprays, edibles, cosmetics, and vapes via its websites Love Hemp and CBDOilsUK. It also has a strong wholesale presence through its LH Botanicals subsidiary.

£9m Takeover Successful

The company’s success saw it catch the attention of the North American cannabis investment firm World High Life (WHL) leading to successful a £9m takeover last summer.

WHL is run by Canadian entrepreneur David Stadnyk, the former President and CEO of $350m Canadian business The Supreme Cannabis Company. It is listed on London’s AQSE Growth Market, and two public markets in North America.

Mr Calamita says it is currently looking to expand into North America and Asia, although, its ambitions have been hampered by Covid-19. 

It is currently in talks with the South Korean and Thailand authorities, in the latter jurisdiction it is looking to export its CBD products as medicine. 

Despite disrupting its global ambitions the Covid lockdown has boosted revenues with the global migration to on-line platforms doubling sales, and the sterling performance of UK grocery sector supporting this.

Mr Calamita continued: “With the acquisition we have had significant investment and our contact network has grown substantially, allowing us to accelerate the growth of the business.

“There will be some new brand launches in September and some exciting new listings with national retailers. On-line sales have grown by 107% from January to May.

“We will be launching in the US in next few months and Japan at the tail end of the year.

“New product development is at the heart of Love Hemp. We are always trying to bring out the newest, easiest and most ethical way of taking CBD, and are currently are looking at new edibles, sports fulfilment and cosmetics lines,” he added.

Last month it launched a new budget-priced CBD range; 2020 Botanics. 

In February, this year, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced its was cracking down on the country’s unregulated CBD market, requiring businesses to adhere to the European Union’s Novel Food directive by March 31, 2021.

While Mr Calamita, like many of his peers, disagrees with the designation of CBD as a Novel Food, Love Hemp is determined to support efforts to develop a well-regulated and complaint UK CBD industry.

CBD Stability Tests

Most of Love Hemp’s raw material CBD is sourced from a supplier in Colorado and it expects this partner to provide the key documentation to support its Novel Food applications.

However, as with all brands it will need to undertake some additional work to satisfy regulators on the safety of its CBD products in relation to ADME – absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion.

This will include additional analysis on the bioavailability and stability of the CBD in its products; a process which is well-underway and scheduled to meet next March’s deadline for authorisation, says Mr Calamita.

An additional concern raised by the FSA was the effect of CBD on vulnerable groups, its impact on the liver and potential drug interactions.

It consequently recommended a daily CBD limit of no more than 70mg.

Mr Calamita has been in the industry long enough to recall the mandating of a previous upper limit of 200mg in 2016 by industry representatives and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The new, 70mg, limit is based on data provided to the Committee on Toxicity – advisors to the FSA – and secured from GW Pharmaceuticals which makes the CBD seizure drug Epidyolex.

Mr Calamita is hopeful that the work been undertaken by the industry to demonstrate CBD safety in Novel Food applications will permit a recommended higher daily dose.

Love Hemp’s two founders grew up together in south London and their journey into CBD started when Tom’s father, also called Tom, turned to CBD in a battle with cancer.

They still both share a deep fondness and respect for the cannabis plant and continue to enjoy the benefits of CBD themselves.

Enough CBD To Work Its ‘Magic’

Love Hemp’s most popular product is its CBD oil drop with 10% CBD in a 10ml bottle – providing 1000mg of CBD – which retails for £50.

Mr Calamita continued: “These are my personal favourites and are starting point for many of our customers, although some will go for the cheaper ones – £20 to £30 – and that’s an OK amount of CBD to get started.

“But, CBD is a long-term thing. It’s not just for one or two days and it needs to be continued with; to become part of a routine.

“Over the years many customers find their sweet spot at 100 or 200mg – but with the new guidance we cannot recommend more than 70mg.

“I believe the new data will show that CBD is not toxic at 70mg, or above, and that will be a great thing for us, as we can then recommend more CBD to our customers; providing them with enough CBD for it to work its magic.”

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