Naturally nutritious

Tree of Life has undergone a complete makeover in less than ten years, as daring management decisions have turned the Staffordshire based business into the country’s strongest wholesale distributor of natural and organic products

It has been an age of renaissance for Tree of Life since 2011. This was the year when the UK’s largest wholesale distributor of healthy, natural, and organic products was bought by its current TOL 139 bowners, who have taken the business to unprecedented success in the last seven years.

“We have enjoyed year-on-year growth in that period and we have even had many years that have seen us hit double-digit growth figures,” Tree of Life’s CEO, John Weaver reveals. “I would attribute our success to the fundamental turnaround and change in the business, first and foremost. In 2011, we refinanced the company and replaced its supply chain entirely. We have invested heavily in new staff and technology. An ERP system is now in place and on the employee side, we have appointed new staff with key functions, also qualifying and training our new workforce properly. Furthermore, we have recruited professionals at a more senior level, too, and all of these changes have allowed us to double our productivity, as we became a better-managed business.

“The second significant change that has taken place across the business, is that we redefined the market that we operate in, making it much broader. It was essential for us that we moved to new sales channels and new sales geographies, as well,” John explains. “Today, we specialise in a wide range of categories, such as organic; gluten free and free from; superfoods; healthy drinks; vitamins, minerals, and supplements; natural beauty and personal care; baby; pet; and household. All of these have experienced dynamic growth and it is hard to single out one category performing considerably better than the others.”

Acquisition has been a powerful tool to achieve growth for Health Made Easy – the holding company Tree of Life is part of, and the past 12 months have proven busy in this regard with key moves made to expand the group. “Health Made Easy is an investor in the health and wellness sector and at the end of 2017, it acquired a very high-quality supplements brand, called Higher Nature,” John announces. “Our plans are now to inject an investment and a management team into that business, because we see a significant upside potential in it.”

Business growth
Health Made Easy has also just made an offer to acquire The Health Store, aiming to increase its reach in the market. “We hope that the 300 plus shareholders in The Health Store will agree that TOL 139 cour offer makes good sense. We are planning to broaden the company’s range and also facilitate management decisions, when it comes to investment in staff and technology, the way we did with Tree of Life. For a business to make serious investments, one has to have the capital and our group can provide The Health Store with the financial support needed,” John reasons.

Speaking of Tree of Life’s latest accomplishments as an individual entity, he points out the growth the business has achieved at times of insecure financial situation caused by the Brexit vote. “We surmounted the challenges posed by the currency variance and managed to grow in a year that saw many others struggle. It is a real testament to the business’ robustness and sound management.”

John has set the bar high for his business and he is confident that the next three to five years could bring about a growth that will skyrocket Tree of Life into three-digit turnover figures. “If the acquisition of The Health Store proceeds, we will be turning over £100 million per annum. We feel that within five years, we can double that growth organically and through further acquisition.”

Increasing exports
To meet its bold objectives with success, Tree of Life will also centre upon developing its international trade further. The company has been tireless in its export efforts for many years and there are few geographical zones left for it to conquer. “In fact, the only place we don’t export to is the Americas, but this is going to change very soon, as we are planning to start selling our products into these markets in the next couple of months,” John clarifies.

There is no denying that consumers’ perception of food has changeddramatically in modern times, and Treeof Life has certainly capitalised on thenew ways in which people approachtheir diets. John details: “Clearly, what is happening in the US, Europe, and the UK, is that people now endeavour to lead healthier lifestyles and that has been reflected by their selection of food. I see that consumers aged 18-35 are more willing to spend a little more to eat more healthily and reduce their intake of salts, sugars, and fats. They are looking for healthier alternatives to provide them with higher nutrition and with our 10,000 products, we are very well-equipped to consolidate a fantastic offer for them,” he summarises.