Having been inducted into the Spinneys incubator programme, home-grown, online tea brand BRW Society products will soon be available at Spinneys and Waitrose stores in the UAE for 12 months, free of cost. BRW Society products will hit the Spinneys and Waitrose shelves within this year.
Before moving on, a few words the Spinneys incubator programme. Aligned with its goal to support local food producers, Spinneys announced an incubator programme for micro food and beverage suppliers in the UAE in May 2020. The initiative was recognised by the UAE government’s Food and Water Security Office for its contribution to the country’s National Food Security Strategy.
The Spinneys incubator programme selected 24 winners, 11 are from the fresh food category, 9 offer shelf-stable products and 4 are frozen goods. Among the winners are BRW Society, Honest Kitchen, Crumbs & Co, and Sprout, among others.
“We were thrilled to be shortlisted by the Spinneys board from 160 applications. BRW Society got selected among the 24 businesses. The incubation programme was quite meaningful, as Spinneys was not only keen to understand a small business’ scalability and future plans, product range but also people behind the brands and our aspirations,” says Laura Manning, founder & managing director of BRW Society.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are a major driver of the UAE’s growth and economic development. As such, the Spinneys incubator programme is a step in the right direction.
“The cost of being listed on a supermarket shelf is phenomenal. Had it not been for the Spinneys incubator programme, it would have taken us a couple of years to get our products to a supermarket shelf,” Manning admits. “We would have had to reach a certain turnover to put some money aside to break through into the supermarkets. What’s more, Spinneys has offered us favourable payment terms, which otherwise may run up to even 60-90 days, tough for small businesses from a cash flow point of view.”
“In addition to being listed in the Spinneys and Waitrose stores, Spinneys will also support us with marketing, events and other initiatives. This is a huge plus for a small business like us that will catapult us to reach a much wider audience,” she adds. On our part, we will add constant newness through our product range as it becomes available in Spinneys and Waitrose.”
BRW Society products are currently sold via its own e-commerce site, alongside online marketplaces including Ingfit, Namshi.com, noon.com and Sprii, among others. The brand has had to ramp up production while pivoting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We launched the BRW Society in October 2019, and the product range was very well-received. Our creative director Jules Seddon and I spent a lot of time at pop-ups like the Ripe markets to let people taste the blends. Through these interactions, we were soon able to build decent traction on our online site,” Manning recollects. “However, when COVID-19 hit in March, things started changing. Initially, we were focusing on the HORECA industry and had become an approved supplier to the Jumeirah Group. Even the cafés that we were negotiating with had to tweak their business to survive.”
“We had to quickly rethink our strategy and be agile. During the May-July phase, we allocated budget for digital marketing to generate traffic to our e-commerce site, while the online marketplaces supported with their social media initiatives, leading to an increase in sales,” Seddon added.
Alongside the online channel, BRW is planning to increase its presence by partnering with other supermarkets and pharmacies. “Eventually, we will also revive our talks with the hospitality industry,” Manning shares. “Importantly, we will focus on making the partnership with Spinneys successful,” Seddon points out.
“We are also keen to expand into the wider GCC. Our products are already gaining traction in Saudi Arabia through Namshi.com. Over the long-term, we would like to become the top-most loose-leaf tea brand in the UAE,” they conclude.