AF Blakemore goes online with Vegan Store acquisition

Food retail, wholesale and distribution company AF Blakemore has announced the purchase of the online wholesaler and retailer Vegan Store.

The move immediately adds an online division to the AF Blakemore business, which until now has only operated stores as part of its retail offering.

The acquisition gives AF Blakemore, which operates around 280 Spar convenience stores across the UK, direct access to vegan products such as Go Max Go candy bars and Vegg. The plan is for the business to develop new products through Vegan Store's Golden Crunch brand.

Group commercial managing director, Jerry Marwood, said: “The vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is predicted to be the choice of up to 25% of the British population by 2025.

“By acquiring Vegan Store we are adding a niche brand to our portfolio that we will be able to develop and grow in line with forecasted market growth.”

As part of the deal, the cost of which has not been disclosed, Vegan Store founder Lisa Ruskin will be joining AF Blakemore in a consultative role.

“New vegan products will present our Spar stores, Philpotts stores and partners in retail, wholesale and foodservice with a fantastic opportunity to attract new customers, as well as to provide innovative alternatives for existing ones,” Marwood added.

Essential Retail understands AF Blakemore is looking to continue making investments and diversifying into the online space, following the Vegan Store acquisition.

In terms of expanding into the vegan category, AF Blakemore is certainly on trend. Research conducted by Ipsos MORI in 2016 for the Vegan Society found that Britain’s vegan population increased from 150,000 to 542,000 in the space of a decade, and there has been growing momentum behind veganism in the four years since.

And a study released by Mintel earlier this month found vegan ice cream accounts for an increasing proportion of global ice cream launches. It made up 7% of all launches in the last 12 months, which is more than double the 3% from five years ago.

What’s Hot on Essential Retail?