CELEBRITY ENTREPRENEUR HEATHER MILLS SNAPS UP NORTH TYNESIDE'S VEGAN RETAILER ALTERNATIVE STORES

Entrepreneur and vegan lifestyle champion Heather Mills is aiming to create a plant-based retail hub after snapping up a North East online business from family friends.

The owner of VBites has announced the acquisition of AlternativeStores.com, an online family business launched in 2016 selling 100% plant-based, cruelty-free products ranging from makeup and shoes, to chocolate, frozen and chilled foods, snacks and household goods.

The company, which has a store at the Newcastle Quays Retail Park, formerly the Royal Quays Outlet Centre, is owned by Ms Mills’ “dear friends” Dan John Strettle, who will now retire, and his daughter Zahra Newberry, who will stay on with the business. Ms Mills said she aims to use the new addition to her VBites company to create a central hub of ‘hero’ plant-based products, to make it easier for consumers to find more plant-based options, while also supporting UK family-owned businesses looking to launch and grow their own brands.

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Mr Strettle and his daughter said: “We are excited for the future of Alternative Stores with such a passionate vegan pioneer in Heather Mills. We have built up the most amazing and loyal customer base and know they will be as delighted as we both are for the ideas and plans that Heather and her team are working on.”

The move comes months after the celebrity food entrepreneur resurrected the VBites brand following its collapse into administration with debts of £10m. Ms Mills bought the name from administrators and has been rebuilding the plant-based food company from bases in Peterlee and Corby. She also owns the Plant & Bean manufacturing facility in Boston, UK.

Following the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, Ms Mills spoke of her mission to create a one-stop shop for plant based goods.

She said: “I observed too many family businesses struggling to get listed on corporate owned selling websites, facing endless paperwork, poor communication, and exorbitant charges that ultimately harmed their operations. I aim to create an ethical online store that supports family businesses and diminishes the control of large corporations abusing their power. People may find these companies convenient, however they are harming the consumers pocket and ethics in other ways they have not considered.

“Our customers predominantly shop online, so our goal is to create a one-stop shop for convenience to consolidate a wide variety of nutritious and delicious alternative products under a single banner and framework, from one family site. We are simplifying the shopping experience for consumers seeking diverse, healthier, and tastier plant-based options.

“People lead busy, hardworking lives, and we don’t always want to spend an hour online visiting multiple websites. I get that – so why not alleviate that burden if we can? However also choose British family owned businesses as they are the foundation of the economy to support the UK.

“First, I want to congratulate Dan John on his retirement and thanks to Zahra for continuing to work with me. Our wider plan is to integrate this offering with the many high protein, delicious alternatives we already produce at VBites, creating a central hub of ‘hero’ plant based products in one place. From plant-based milk to allergen-free ready meals and ethical sweet treats, we are committed to quality.”

2024-07-09T15:01:23Z dg43tfdfdgfd