Sales have risen 50 percent in recent weeks for the online start-up’s CBDDirect2U brand which offers a range of flavoured, pure oils and soft gels containing cannabidioil (CBD), a compound commonly found in hemp, one of the plant’s strains. Proven to be free of the banned psychoactive constituent THC that is responsible for the highs associated with marijuana, the company’s CBD is naturally sourced in the US then manufactured to special formulations in the UK.
Some six million people here have so far tried CBD – a market expected to be worth £1billion by 2025, despite it being classed as a food supplement and forbidden to make medical claims.
“People have become increasingly interested in their health and wellbeing. But the most recent sales growth definitely indicates concern about the virus outbreak,” says medical director and former GP Dr Peter Naylor.
“We made the decision to sell directly online and offer a monthly subscription service as well to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy at a competitive price. We’re confident we have the stocks to meet demand.”
Product purity and transparency have been cornerstones of Chester-based CBDDirect, which was founded and self-funded by Naylor and wellness industry expert Ian Craggs in 2019.
Driven by Naylor’s own experience using CBD to treat an injury, the two then saw opportunities to improve standards for customers in a sector that was opening up but still unregulated.
“Not all CBD is the same,” warns Naylor.
“People want to know what they are buying. All our products come with a guaranteed CBD concentration and have been rigorously tested. We use a certified laboratory and have invested £150,000, with much of that spent on testing, approvals and ensuring premium quality.”
Manufacture of the oils, which are blended with top grade coconut and come in tasty flavours from chocolate to mixed berry, involves a new process.
“It’s a more delicate method of extraction than is frequently used,” explains Naylor. “This requires temperature changes rather than the more common and aggressive method of CO2 extraction.”
The company, which expects its team of eight people to increase to 25 in the medium term, is forecasting a £250,000 for 2020 rising to £5 million in 2022.
Plans to add balms to the range will be followed by further brand expansion with the launch this year of the group’s new vitamin, protein and weight loss Direct2U e-commerce sites and then a dedicated pharmacy one.
“In future we would consider private equity support to help us take the business to the next level, which would allow us to have our own factory and distribution centre,” adds Naylor.
“The Foods Standards Agency recently advised CBD companies they have until next March to apply for Novel Food compliance. Good companies and customers need this, and we are more than ready to seek approval.”