British entrepreneur Heather Mills has purchased the assets of plant-based meal brand VBites with a £1m winning bid, weeks after the brand fell into administration. As part of the deal, Mills, who was the majority shareholder in VBites, also waived almost £5m of debt owed to her in order to help secure a better return for all the creditors, as first reported by the Grocer. The asset-only deal includes the plant and machinery, stock and IP and social media accounts.
Mills said that she was devastated when VBites was forced to close, citing “corporate greed and poor management” along with rising living costs and misinformation from the meat and dairy industries as factors that contributed to the failure of the business.
She also stated that she was only given 3 days notice to the closure despite an agreement between shareholders to “always give each other three months notice”, revealing that she was “cut out of everything”.
In a statement published to her Linkedin page, she said “I strongly believed that the next-generation technology that VBites had developed and the work it had done still had a huge role to play in assisting the transition of the food market to a healthier and more sustainable place.”
“This is why I have chosen to resurrect the company myself, at great personal expense, and take control of the operations personally, moving back to the North-East to ensure that we are still able to make a positive contribution to the future of our global food economy. We have already developed a version 2.0 of plant-based food, soon to launch, that we believe will be a market mover and will help all of those people attempting to make a flexitarian or plant-based/Vegan transition achieve their goals more easily, both with variety and deliciousness.”
Mills discovered veganism in the early 90’s as an alternative therapy to traditional medicine, and VBites was born from the difficulty she faced in sourcing suitable meatless substitutes to use in her cooking. Mills bought the small meat and dairy alternative food company Redwood Wholefoods in 2009, which was founded in 1993, and renamed it VBites, expanding the product range of plant-based meat, fish and cheese alternatives.
VBites had been operating from two manufacturing sites in northeast England: in Peterlee, County Durham, and Corby, Northamptonshire, and employing nearly 80 people.
Image Credit: http://www.heathermills.org/