Heather Mills

Mills’ acquisition of the plant-based store is to support her mission to create a ‘one-stop shop for convenience’

VBites founder Heather Mills has acquired online plant-based retailer Alternative Stores.

The vegan food entrepreneur said the addition to her portfolio was part of an endeavour to offer support to “hundreds of family businesses” in launching their own plant-based brands into retail.

Mills’ added her acquisition of the plant-based store would support her mission to create a “one-stop shop for convenience” as most of her customers predominantly shopped online.

“We are simplifying the shopping experience for consumers seeking diverse, healthier, and tastier plant-based options,” said Mills.

“People lead busy, hardworking lives, and we don’t always want to spend an hour online visiting multiple websites. I get that – so why not alleviate that burden if we can?”

Founders of Alternative Stores Dan John and his daughter Zahra said they were “excited for the future” of the brand in the wake of the acquisition.

”We have built up the most amazing and loyal customer base and know they will be as delighted as we both are for the ideas and plans that Heather and her team are working on,” they added.

Dan John is retiring but Zahra will continue at the retail platform in order to work with Mills and her team.

Mills said she wanted to create an “ethical online store that supports family businesses and diminishes the control of large corporations abusing their power”.

“People may find these companies convenient, however they are harming the consumers’ pocket and ethics in other ways they have not considered,” she added.

The store will stock a variety of plant-based products including VBites items, plant-based milk, allergen-free ready meals and ethical sweet treats, Mills explained.

“If it’s not fantastic, it won’t make it onto the site!”

At the end of last year, Mills’ brand VBites went into administration, before she bought assets of her business back from administrators Interpath as part of a £1m rescue deal.

“I was devastated when the company was forced unnecessarily, with three days’ notice, into administration,” Mills told The Grocer at the time.

“I strongly believed the next-generation technology 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 we are still able to make a positive contribution to the future of our global food economy.”