After losing a chunk of its business overnight to Covid-19, Natnoot was forced to make changes, which resulted in a great success story for the small family business.

Established in 2014, Natnoot specialises in cold pressed juice drinks using locally sourced produce and superfoods. The company, headed up by Derek and Anna Walker, had been going from strength to strength since its inception but the onset of Covid-19 decimated a huge section of their business overnight.

However, having received an expansion grant from Local Enterprise Office Donegal in 2019, the health food entrepreneurs were able to keep their business afloat and adapt their product to suit the ever-changing market.

“The last three months has really been a period of change and adaptation,” says Derek Walker. “We had goals and projects which we were working on when literally everything just stopped. Our products had very much been a grab-and-go item which needs a volume of customers looking for a healthy drink option, but when Covid-19 hit, this segment of the market vanished as offices and gyms closed and most people were working from home.

“Now is the time to critically evaluate to survive”

“Like everyone else, it took us by surprise, and we had spent a period of time after lockdown wondering what the impact of the pandemic would be on our business and what we could do to counter the damage.

“We evaluated our product range to identify vulnerabilities and realised that while there was a decline in convenience and snack buying, grocery shopping was growing significantly so we saw an opportunity,” he added.

The couple spent the first month of lockdown ramping up their social media output with content which told their story and made sure to highlight the importance of supporting local.

“We created a lot of content and introduced two products which fitted into the grocery section but still had a strong health focus,” says Walker, who also completed the Food Academy Programme with LEO Donegal, SuperValu and Bord Bia.

“We introduced blast-frozen options of wheatgrass juice and Turmeric root shots and these superfood shots are now being included into people’s weekly shop and incorporated into their daily routines at home.

“Next, we ramped up our website and created juice cleanse bundles with the help of a nutritionist friend. These were bundled together with our fresh juices and frozen shots as we felt they would fit into the growing trend for home workouts and healthy living during lockdown.”

Online sales for Natnoot grew by 400 per cent, as did their social media following. Thanks to Derek and Anna’s intuition and hard work, May 2020 was the company’s strongest performing month since the company started in 2014.

“And don’t fear change, just embrace it and keep going”

They are now taking on a full-time employee to help with demand and the Donegal man says their success is down to a combination of support and courage and he would advise other companies to follow suit.

“Without the support of Local Enterprise Office Donegal, this would not be impossible,” he says. “We were very grateful to receive a grant in 2019 which left us in a good position to adapt to the changes Covid-19 has brought about.

“I would advise other companies to look for opportunities as they are definitely there, even if they are not what you initially expected and are probably outside of your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to try something new.

“Now is the time to critically evaluate to survive – and as things can be overwhelming if you let them, acknowledge the changes and take control again. It might be hard to put goals and targets on the shelf, but many are unrealistic right now so just put them aside and concentrate on what you have to do. And don’t fear change, just embrace it and keep going,” Derek concluded.

To find out more about Natnoot’s offering or to buy some of their products, visit the Natnoot website

Published: 16 July, 2020

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