GROWTH stories: babies + chocolate

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on August 31, 2018, 6:45 pm in News, Other


Thursday February 14th 2019


Thursday February 14th 2019


WORLD TRADE IMAGE: courtesy of Julius Silver from Pexels



Stories from the Directorzone GRID about companies that are thriving in the UK and world marketplaces.


[GRID #: companies with strong GRowth, Innovation and Direction. List: GRID companies profiled on Directorzone]



Story: engineer designs a product and raises the cash to fix a problem, survives the bear hug of UK big retail, travels the globe for customers, suppliers and partners and is now expanding the business into new worldwide markets.

DZ profile:  YOOMI (Feed Me Bottles Limited)

Business: manufactures and sells the yoomi self-warming babies’ feeding bottle

Basics: Launched - 2006 | Founder - Dr. Jim Shaikh, CEO | Location - Dartford, Kent | Staff – 7

Sector: ICB - 3767 Personal Products | SIC - 47789 - Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores n.e.c.


  • Exports: China - 50%; Western & Eastern (Czech, Poland, Balkans, Baltics, Turkey and Russia) Europe - 19%; UK - 15%; Middle East & Africa (Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, South Africa) - 7%; Asia & Australasia (Japan, India, Vietnam, Australia, NZ) - 7%; US and Latin America (Chile) - 2%.
  • Imports:  China, South Africa and Bulgaria.

GRowth: is profitable and growing fast. Its £500,000 turnover is forecasted to reach £700,000 in 2018.

Innovation: designed and built the world’s first rechargeable self-warming baby bottle. Its phase change technology warms only the milk that the baby is drinking - to a perfect temperature. Competitor products take longer to heat, waste energy and risk degrading the nutrients by warming the whole bottle.

Direction / key decisions:

  • Marketing / sales. Pulled out of the big UK retailers - John Lewis, Mothercare and Boots – because of high sales costs and now makes 85% of its sales overseas.
  • Suppliers. Gets components manufactured by different overseas companies and assembled by Yoomi back in the UK for quality control and to minimise IP theft and cloning.
  • Distribution. Tight management - every one of its 24 overseas distributors has been changed at least once.
  • IP strategy. Much of Yoomi’s technology is in shape and form. Rather than expensive technical patents everywhere, it focused on core countries and applied for design patents in a wider range of countries.

Key Accelerators: 40+ angel investors (£3.5m to date), Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), SH&P - Stevens Hewlett & Perkins (Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys).

Opportunities / Shopping list:

  1. Launch a new marketing campaign with new web site, brand refresh and PR campaign.
  2. Drive overseas growth in Asia, Middle East and Russia. Expand presence in the US online marketplace.
  3. Find fitout companies for a move to new premises with a 5-year lease
  4. Find a better international banking service with RNB account and FX services.
  5. Find suppliers for hardware and software products to sell under the Yoomi brand in the baby care marketplace.
  6. Find partners to apply Yoomi’s warming technologies in the medical devices and battlefield marketplaces.

Full interview:




Story: young couple rent a factory, learn how to commercialise hand-made chocolate, create a brand and build a fast-growing worldwide business.

DZ profile: Gnaw Chocolate Ltd

Business: Hand-crafted chocolate manufacturer

Basics: Launched - 2011 | Founders – Matt, CEO, and Teri Legon | Location – Norwich, Norfolk | Staff – 20+

Sector: ICB - 3577 Food Products | SIC - 10821 - Manufacture of cocoa and chocolate confectionery


  • Exports: 50% of revenues come from exports to 23 countries. China is a relatively new addition, Scandinavia is the largest overseas market and Gnaw recently trialled its products at 91 Casino stores in France.
  • Imports: Brazil, Ivory Coast, Grenada and Venezuela.

GRowth: £123,000 turnover in 2011-12 to £1.5m in 2017 and plans 100% growth over next 3 years, targeting £3m turnover by 2020.


  • Each item of chocolate is hand-made in the Norwich factory, whereas “Most UK brands use other companies to make their (mass-produced) chocolate.”
  • Experimentation. “We test every day, with constant trialling of new tastes & flavours, often with flavour concepts that other companies wouldn’t dare use.”

Direction / key decisions:

  • Matt and his wife Teri set up a 7,500-square foot factory in the outskirts of Norwich with their own savings and then set out to build a chocolate business around it.
  • Choosing the Gnaw logo (with nibble marks), the silent G and Norfolk – right at the beginning. Few people at overseas trade shows know where Norfolk is or how to pronounce “Gnaw” but love the “Gnawfolk” brand.
  • Discovering the striking taste and dynamic flavours of Grenadian and Venezuelan chocolate, and then launching a new brand: Brooke & Amble - a pure chocolate with a “single origin” provenance.

Key Accelerators: Solid Block: Brand Design Agency; UKTI (UK Trade and Investment).

Opportunities / Shopping list:

  1. Target up-market retailers such as Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls for the new Brooke & Amble brand to accelerate the company’s growth.
  2. Look for a new factory within 18 months.
  3. “There’s a greater opportunity out there and we want to work with the people who can get us there, to accelerate our growth”. What, like a Non-Exec director? “Yes, it could be”.

Full interview: