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VAT attack: UK trio birth “premium value” online sports nutrition brand

By Shane Starling , 10-Jan-2013
Last updated on 10-Jan-2013 at 18:17 GMT2013-01-10T18:17:39Z

VAT beater: UK trio birth online sports nutrition brand

Three directors have left the sports nutrition leader to launch a low-cost, premium supplements brand in the wake of the UK imposing a 20% tax on sports powder perennials like whey protein.

Founder Mark Coxhead told us the new online-selling venture - The Protein Works – was up and running from a just completed 11,000 square foot manufacturing facility between Manchester and Liverpool in the north west of England.

The company has 50 products including protein formulas, creatine, glutamine, essential fatty acids, oats, carbohydrate products, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and more.

“We are taking advantage of selling only online to lower costs so we can offer what like to think of as ‘premium value’. We offer the highest quality products but have cut no corners in sourcing the very best ingredients,” Coxhead relayed.

At a time when consumer spending is curtailed due to the economic recession, cost reduction is imperative, especially after the UK government slapped a 20% value-added tax (VAT) on sports powders in October last year.

Increases in raw material costs have also been a factor.

Coxhead (second from left): “The fact we have our own manufacturing facility means we can play around a lot with formulations and new product development.”

Coxhead (second from left): “The fact we have our own manufacturing facility means we can play around a lot with formulations and new product development.”

“Despite this the sports supplements sector is growing and so we thought it was the right time to make the move,” Coxhead said. The other two co-founders and former directors are Nick Smith and Karl Jacobie and financial assistance was provided by The Yorkshire Bank.

Coxhead said the range – which will add another 100 SKUs in 2013 – was tailored to different levels of sports enthusiast: From the casual player to the image-conscious to the “spit and sawdust” hardcore gym user.

“The fact we have our own manufacturing facility means we can play around a lot with formulations and new product development.”

The firm has committed to using only natural colours and flavours.

“Quality and transparency are paramount for us,” Coxhead said. “We want to offer a totally transparent service, which is why we’re allowing customers to create their own formulas and unique blends, as well as our off-the-shelf products.” 

The website is in English at the moment but the firm said versions would be online soon in other languages although sales had come from Ireland, Germany, Spain and other countries since the site went live in December just gone.

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