On Monday, the inaugural Sainsbury’s Beauty & Wellbeing Live Innovation Pitch took place at Natural & Organic Products Europe, with the multiple deciding to choose not one but two beauty brands to attend a meeting at Sainsbury’s HQ and potentially land a listing.
Hosted by broadcaster and journalist Janey Lee Grace, the packed session saw a team from Sainsbury’s – comprising Rebecca Wicks, Siobhan McTernan, Milena Lazarevska and James Kerr – listen to fast-paced two-minute pitches from six beauty brands that had been shortlisted from over 60 companies.
“The bar was really high,” said Wicks on the day, describing the quality of the entries. “We wanted to try and find brands that firstly had a product that was really differentiated and secondly had a story that would resonate with our customers. So it was a combination of the two that was really how we identified the brands that we’re going to see today.”
After quizzing each presenter about their products and conferring among themselves, the team announced that there were two winning companies: UpCircle – a regenerative skincare range created using repurposed natural ingredients; and the US-based Presidio Brands with its natural Every Man Jack men’s affordable natural bodycare range.
When I found out about the Sainsbury’s pitching opportunity I knew I’d be foolish not to give it a shot. Fast-forward to the day of the pitch and it was incredible to see so many people in the audience – with additional crowds of people standing at the back. Even just to have the opportunity to tell my brand story to that crowd would’ve been a worthwhile opportunity
Commenting on the win, Jeff Abbamonte, who pitched Every Man Jack, says: “It was an honour to be chosen by Sainsbury’s during the two-minute pitch challenge. For me personally it will be a career highlight to have that type of experience presenting our brand on a live stage at the biggest natural products trade show in Europe! For the company, this is the start of an amazing partnership to help launch our brand in the UK on a much larger scale. Sainsbury’s has been very accommodating, knowing we are a US brand, and were able to fit us into their schedule for a face-to-face meeting before I headed back across the pond. We look forward to expanding our brand further thanks to this amazing opportunity.”
Speaking about why Every Man Jack got through, Wicks told NPN: “In a world where significantly more natural brands are targeted at women, it was refreshing to find a brand targeted at men, and even more so one that played across all male categories including shave, shower and deodorant. We liked the clear, simple branding and the innovative bottle shapes used in their hair care. We felt that before Every Man Jack we hadn’t seen any natural brand operating credibly in this space in the UK before.”
Wicks explains that the panel chose UpCircle as a second winner because: “UpCircle gave a very concise and engaging pitch, they clearly articulated the USP of their brand. We loved the fact they recycle waste from another industry by reusing coffee grounds, we thought the branding and messaging was very strong and the products smelt divine. Furthermore, we liked the fact they had thought about an extension strategy, already thinking about other products they could recycle to broaden the reach of the brand.”
“We are absolutely ecstatic to have walked away having won the Sainsbury’s pitch at Natural & Organic Products Europe,” comments UpCircle co-founder Anna Brightman. “To be able to move forwards with a listing in the UK’s third largest supermarket chain will be transformational to our business at this stage of our journey. When I found out about the Sainsbury’s pitching opportunity I knew I’d be foolish not to give it a shot. Fast-forward to the day of the pitch and it was incredible to see so many people in the audience – with additional crowds of people standing at the back. Even just to have the opportunity to tell my brand story to that crowd would’ve been a worthwhile opportunity. I couldn’t have asked for better questions form the Sainsbury’s buyers – or better feedback! It’s been a real boost for the UpCircle team and we are excited about what the future holds.”
The other shortlisted companies were SkinGenius, which showcased its problem skin line; Ringtons with its natural sleep drink Snoooze; Naturally Tribal Skincare, which pitched its range of African-inspired bodycare; and Pharmavita with its Aronia Berry Boost.