PointOV Ltd: Vic Morgan and Andy Redfern

The future’s Fairtrade for the business that aims to be an “ethical Amazon”

Vic Morgan and Andy Redfern are bringing ethical alternatives to the masses. No longer the domain of the eco-warrior, environmentally friendly and Fairtrade products are becoming increasingly sought after, as consumers realise they can positively influence people’s lives without having to dust off the handcuffs.

Capitalising on this, www.ethicalsuperstore.com offers what most other stockists in this market don’t: choice. “We believed in the spirit behind Fairtrade, but wanted to do something big,” says Morgan. “With all the great examples out there of the Traidcrafts and the Café Directs, few have become substantial.”

But the founders remain clear about one thing: PointOv is no charity. Its philosophy is to achieve its social aims by making the business as big as it can be.

“We’re running a social business that is a trading business,” says Morgan. “The social objective is, in the case of Fairtrade, to help the poor through trade, but for people who are making a dollar a day, surely you’ve got to provide a lot of trade to help make a difference?”

Impressively, PointOv is well on its way. Following venture capital (VC) investment to the tune of £1.1m from NorthStar Equity Investors, the company, which began life as a consultancy, started trading through Ethicalsuperstore.com in October 2006. Already it is selling more than 3,500 unique products and has smashed first-year sales targets. The next test will be reaching its goal of a £2.4m turnover this year, a 300% increase on 2007.

Projections are even more impressive. The business plan outlines strategies to hit £10m by 2009 and £40m by 2012, fuelled by an extra £3m investment, which Morgan and Redfern are currently seeking. This will add to the 25-strong team and expand the Newcastle base, which is “busting at the seams”.

But Morgan doesn’t view this as overly ambitious. In fact, so certain is he of PointOV’s potential, that he is even looking to float the business as early as next year, while geographical expansion is also on the cards.

“Our plans do involve us continuing the same level of growth,” he adds. “But the market we’re in is still booming. So it’s just maintaining and growing our share of that.”

Their substantial knowledge of the market also supports growth expectations. Redfern, 41, has run his own Fairtrade shop and was a director at Traidcraft, while 42-year-old Morgan ran another VC-backed ethical e-commerce company Stateside before providing consultancy to Fairtrade businesses such as Traidcraft, where he met Redfern.

The founders are also pursuing new revenue streams, positioning Ethicalsuperstore as an “ethical Amazon”, with a marketplace-style set up where third-party suppliers can link to their sites. Then there’s the growing wholesale side, helping producers enter the market by selling their ranges to the likes of Tesco and WHSmith.

Amassing 34,000 customers in just over a year, PointOV seems to be on the right track.

Company details Company: PointOV Ltd Launched: 2003 Founders: Vic Morgan and Andy Redfern Website: www.ethicalsuperstore.com




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