An eco-friendly online meal prep business founded by a husband-and-wife team is in talks with investors about the group’s expansion plans as demand for its service soars.
Warrington-based Fuel Hub was launched by retired professional rugby league player James Laithwaite and his wife Michelle, a former global fashion wholesale manager, in 2019.
Their goal is to help people take control of their diet and nutrition by providing healthy, calorie-controlled meals cooked by expert chefs.
For many types of diets, meals are made with locally sourced ingredients and delivered in eco-friendly packaging.
The company, which employs more than 15 people, has grown significantly since its launch.
Not only is Fuel Hub on track to hit £2m revenue this year, but the business is currently in talks with investors.
James said: “We started the business with the two of us doing everything, but in that time the business has grown exponentially, leading us to outgrow our current site.
“There are a lot of big players in the meal kit and recipe box business, but in our prepared meals space there is much more room to grow. We have identified a gap in the market and we believe that we are the best.”
As well as supplying meals directly to consumers, Fuel Hub also caters to commercial and sporting clients including the EFL Championship, Team GB, England Rugby, Fulham FC, Blackpool FC, Derby County, Warrington Wolves and Catalan Dragons.
“There is a lot of room to scale within the sporting arena and really grow our portfolio of clubs and build on the relationship that we have,” Michelle said.
“So we are absolutely looking for investment right now and we have some interested parties. As we started to get our brand and name out there, people started to take notice and we’ve already had some conversations with investors.
“Raising additional funds means we can fund new facilities, new equipment and get the best staff to help fuel our growth.”
The entrepreneurial couple were inspired to launch Fuel Hub when they saw a growing demand from busy people who wanted healthy, “restaurant-quality” meals that they could easily heat up in just a few minutes.
James said: “I was about to retire from rugby and thought a lot about what I wanted to do next. Michelle was traveling all over the world with her work in fashion and there came a point where we decided we wanted to do something together.
“We were both busy people with a young family and often used caterers but found they were never as good or tasty and there wasn’t much else on the market that we liked.
“So, I told Michelle that we could do better than this. We’ve always been interested in health and fitness and that’s where the idea came from.”
Michelle said, “We wanted to create meals that were better than our competitors and could easily be heated up in a few minutes, so whether you’re a busy professional, a busy parent, or just want to eat better, we wanted meals with all the proper nutrients.
“We started the business from scratch sending meals to family and friends. When we first moved into a unit in Warrington our first order was 47 meals and we now do over 1,000 a day.”
Thanks to James’ connection to the world of sports, they soon began taking orders from sports clubs and even during the pandemic, business was fueled by an unprecedented rise in home delivery services as people began to eat at home three times a day.
“Like many businesses, we weren’t sure what kind of impact the pandemic would have, but we soon discovered there was a huge appetite from people for meals delivered right to their door.
“We also find time to look at our business strategy, our goals for the future, and refine areas like our website and building those important relationships with corporate clients.”
When asked about the impact of rising costs on the business and customers, Michelle added, “We have such a great product and we try to keep our prices as affordable as possible without compromising quality.
“The message we try to convey is that we are a green company, which means that we operate a sustainable kitchen with no waste. We provide people with all the food and nutrients they need throughout the week, and our customers tell us they save money by not going out to buy items they don’t need and not wasting food.
“And it actually helps with the budget, so some people can buy six meals a week and know that’s part of their weekly spending.”