The Cheeky Panda
We believe companies and consumers want high quality but sustainable green products at affordable prices.
The world has an ever growing population. It has been estimated that, in 2008, humanity's consumption exceeded the Earth’s annual regenerative capacity, or biocapacity, by a factor of 1.5x (Global Footprint Network, 2011). People are looking for new solutions and fast.
Founders Chris and Julie (shortlisted for the Duke of York New Entrepreneurs of the Year at the 2017 National Business Awards) are using Bamboo products as a solution to people and companies looking for organic, natural and sustainable alternatives for every day products.
Bamboo is the worlds fastest growing plant and we believe it is not being utilised to its potential. Together with our Chinese Partners we have created a range of Bamboo Tissue Products that are, high quality, sustainable and low carbon!
Partners Chris Forbes & Julie Chen founded the business in January 2016 after a trip to China to investigate bamboo. They discovered the vast scale of the bamboo plantations and the modern and ethical manufacturing methods including re-using steam in the pulping to power the factory and recycling of the water.
From there the next 8 months were spent on R&D and creating the specifications suitable for the UK market. First products were sold in August 2016 with the aim of bringing high quality green product to consumers.
Our core mission is to inspire other entrepreneurs it's possible to create profitable businesses around sustainable, low carbon, high quality, affordable green products.
Substantial accomplishments to date
Notable accomplishments include:
• 10 finalists or award winners in 12 months including the National Business Awards
• Coverage in many of the national media
• Participant in the World Land Trust Carbon Balanced programme and FSC certified
• Featured in with Bunzl's Innov8 for Winter/Spring 2017
• Promoted by Lyreco UK who has a wide network of salespeople
• Listed with Jangro a consortium of Janitorial companies who have combined sales of over £100m
• Best Seller on Amazon, with 100, reviews with a 4.6* rating
• Supplied by major distributors The Health Store, CLF and Marigolds
• Listed in over 100 stores
• Supplied to hotels through a specialist distributor
• In a major investment bank
• In a major sporting venue
• Available online in France, Germany, Spain and Netherlands
• Mid level stage conversations with other international markets.
Depending on the product it costs us £15k to £25k to manufacture, ship and distribute a container of the product. Over the past 6 months, we have generated a gross margin of c.50%.*
We estimate to be currently selling the equivalent of 1 container a month and we believe we can hit 4 containers a month by December this year.
*Based on unaudited management accounts
Use of proceeds
We have proven the product in the market and we have contracts in place - we are now looking to scale-up our sales and operations functions. While we do use trade finance and invoice finance the business has not been around enough for stock finance and we need significant volumes of stock to scale-up.
We are looking to hire an experienced high growth Managing Director and additional sales executives that have a proven track record and relationships in B2B and retail. We have shortlisted those we are interested in from competitors and who may bring with them knowledge and management skills that will allow us to scale faster.
We intend to use 10% of the funds raised for new product R&D, such as kitchen towels, pocket tissue and marketing to support large retail store listings.
The company currently has an outstanding shareholder loan of £50k, (1% interest) and a 2.8k director's loan (interest free). Funds raised will not be used to repay the loans.
UK has an annual spend of c.$2bn in toilet paper (2012), while the tissue market is worth approx. €40bn globally. Its a product everyone uses everyday.
The Green sector is fast growing particularly with Corporate Social and Sustainability Targets and government low carbon initiatives. Also, the global tissue paper market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.88% over the period 2014-2019. To our knowledge, we stand alone with a carbon neutral product.
Characteristics of target market
Almost everyone uses this product every day, the demand for tissue is increasing globally and we believe there is a lack of eco alternatives in the market.
Recycled tissue is good as it doesn't require the cutting down of trees but as the paper is mainly coming from recycled newspaper and office paper, the de-inking agents chemicals used may be damageable for the environment and for people's skin. We also believe the quality is average at best.
In a world where bio consumption outstrips bio mass capacity by 1.5, more people and businesses are looking for sustainable solutions. Why use thousands of acres of forestry when you can use Bamboo the worlds fastest growing plant instead?
As the market trends towards luxury, sustainable low carbon products, we believe The Cheeky Panda can become the go to brand. As one of the first to market we are pioneering Bamboo Tissue and we intend to add new products to the range over the coming years, showing that we can continue to be innovative and engage with a loyal and growing marketplace.
We have targeted eco conscious marketplaces in the UK to get a bridgehead for our products. This community is quite vocal and proactive in supporting innovation.
As we have become a best seller on Amazon we have over 100 reviews with a 4.6* average rating which we believe validates the product and helps us to convert retail store sales. We have also done 2 exhibits at Excel and Olympia to promote the brand to numerous potential retail customers and retailers.
We have minimised marketing spend to date, relying on awards and PR to get our message to the mainstream market. We have run a number of social media campaigns and promotions through our partners.
Our B2B marketing channel has been delivered via Janitorial companies. We tend to ask new suppliers to go for a promotional campaign of sending out 50 samples of tissue, a brochure, a toy panda and then getting their sales teams to follow up.
We believe this has created a lot of market awareness and we get incoming enquiries from people who have heard about the brand through relationships.
Most of what we have achieved has been through hard work, creative marketing, strong messages and follow-up.
We have attracted a lot of attention throughout Europe in particular Northern Europe and Scandinavia. We believe a natural extension of our marketing plan would be to take the UK success and then replicate it in Europe and North America.
To our knowledge, we were first to market and are the only 100% bamboo tissue product in the UK, but also the only 100% FSC Certified Tissue Brand in the UK.
We believe we have created a brand that people can identify with and trust. Our philosophy is to keep innovating, bring new products to market, test the health benefits, showcase why it's good to be green.
While other 100% Bamboo brands may come into the market behind us, our method of productions are known only to us and we have exclusivity with our suppliers for UK and Ireland. The Cheeky Panda name and panda head is trademarked.
While we would welcome competition in the market as it would create better bamboo tissue awareness as a leading brand it should be very hard to catch us, particularly if we continue to innovate.
The main players in the tissue market are Kimberley-Clarke ($18.5bn net sales in 2015) and Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SEK117bn net sales in 2016). We can't compete with them nor are we looking to. We aim to grow a strong brand with loyal customers in a growing market.