Cheeky Panda appointments Caroline David

Caroline Jary joins Cheeky Panda as chief marketing officer and David Southgate as director of retail

The Cheeky Panda has hired two new executives to complete its senior management team and ready the sustainable hygiene challenger for the next stage of growth.

David Southgate joins as director of retail and Caroline Jary takes up the position of chief marketing officer.

Southgate, who started his career at Boots, was formerly head of buying for non-food at Ocado, moving to the online grocer after six years at multinational consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser in a number of sales roles, including head of e-commerce.

Jary, who joins The Cheeky Panda as a board member, brings more than 25 years’ experience to the role, including a 15-year spell at Mars, where she was UK brand director. She also spent time as category marketing director at Premier Foods and general manager for Unilever’s spreads business.

The hires come as The Cheeky Panda boosted sales 21% to £6.3m and moved to profitability in the first half of 2023.

CEO Julie Chen, who launched the brand in 2016 with Chris Forbes, said the appointments completed the senior management team following Tom Mitchell and David Carter joining in 2022 as CFO and COO respectively, alongside non-execs Giles Brook and Simon Duffy.

“[The 2022 appointments] brought the experience and know-how for the next level of growth and we have already seen the benefits of these hires in terms of product strategy, systems and processes,” she added.

“The key focus for the rest of the year and into 2024 is to ‘Cheekily’ raise brand awareness.”

Southgate said the opportunity in the “largely untapped” retail channel – where the brand has listings with Ocado, Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug, Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic – was “huge”.

“I’m super excited to unleash the unique potential and purpose of The Cheeky Panda brand through building stronger and new UK retail partnerships,” he added.

Jary said she was “flattered to join an extremely strong board”. “Together, we will build upon the strong foundation laid by the Cheeky Panda team and continue to innovate, creating even more planet-loving products that will contribute to a greener future.

“Our goal is not just to be an industry leader in sustainability but to be a driving force behind positive change for the planet we call home.”

The Cheeky Panda makes toilet paper, kitchen roll, tissues and beauty and baby wipes using bamboo rather than virgin tree pulp.

In the first half of 2023, The Cheeky Panda expanded the range with the launch of new anti-bacterial wipes, the first of its product lineup to be made in the UK.

The Cheeky Panda also struck a new partnership with the WWF to highlight the importance of protecting forest habitats and campaigning against deforestation.

The partnership includes WWF branding on pack and includes a launch for luxury quilted, unbleached bamboo toilet rolls, with a direct donation from every pack going to the international non-governmental organisation.

The Cheeky Panda said it had saved almost 26,000 trees in the first six months of 2023 through consumers switching to bamboo-based products, as well as removing more than 24,000kg of plastic from the supply chain.

CFO Tom Mitchell added: “We have had a terrific first half of 2023, managing to grow sales 21% year on year, despite the decision to discontinue less profitable partnerships as part of our razor-sharp focus on profitability.

“Moving to a profit, whilst holding comfortable levels of cash, puts us in a great position to grow the top line in the second half through strategic expansion of our brand and marketing activity, buoyed by our recent CMO appointment.

“We see a plethora of short- and medium-term growth opportunities, namely, to replicate our UK Amazon success across four key European markets, securing further retail listings following the recent arrival of our director of retail, crystallising our B2B pipeline and through exciting product launches.”