Baby products firm's major push into Brazil
A baby products firm is looking to open almost 75 stores in the UK and Brazil as part of a major expansion.
The boss of Nature's Purest, of Kibworth Beauchamp, revealed the plans as the company prepared to launch its third shop in Brazil in two years.
Founder and managing director Jane Albon hopes to open another 47 stores in the South American country over the next few years.
She said demand from affluent Brazilians was high for the pure cotton products because there was nothing else like it being sold in the country.
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"They absolutely adore their children out there, and there's a large birth rate," she said. "There is a middle market where there is so much money. It's fabulous for us."
Last week Ms Albon was one of 40 business people to take part in a two-day trade visit to Brazil, led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Brazil, the world's sixth largest economy, has become a key target for Government officials looking to increase UK exports. The country has a burgeoning consumer-driven middle-class, making it attractive to retailers such as Nature's Purest.
The company sells its products in 37 other countries, including China and Russia. It also has goods in more than 300 UK stores, including Selfridges. Its cotton is grown and processed in China and the products are also made there.
The Brazilian store is to open shortly in Rio de Janeiro. The other two are in Sao Paulo. Seven of the 47 other stores planned for Brazil will be run in partnership with Brazilian business people Marco and Valeria Navarro. The remainder will be franchise operations, where business people will buy the products from Nature's Purest but will be responsible for running the stores.
However, Ms Albon is firstly focusing on franchising out her business in the UK, with plans for 25 franchise stores across the country.
Ms Albon said she had received a lot of advice from franchise experts in Leicestershire.
One of these advisers has been Nigel Toplis, managing director of corporate products franchise business Recognition Express, in Bardon. "We want to do it in the UK first, but we have already got six to seven inquiries from overseas," she said.
The expansion should double turnover to £9.6 million over the next two to three years. It should also create 80 UK jobs, including five in Kibworth, where 15 staff already work at the head office and a store at the site.
Speaking about the trade visit, Ms Albon said: "I was one of only three SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). It was amazing and a fantastic experience. I was very proud to be asked."
Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green, who was also on the visit, said: "I congratulate Nature's Purest for securing new business in Brazil."