The Vegan Kind

The new owner of the website plans to change models to a marketplace for vegan brands and producers

Online supermarket The Vegan Kind, which shuttered last month, has been revived by a family run vegan foods retailer with plans to reinvigorate the brand and bring it back to operations.

Wholefood Earth struck a deal to buy the website of TVK from the current owner and is now working on shifting the company’s business model to a marketplace for small vegan brands and producers.

It comes after the winding down of TVK in November, just a month after the existing shareholders – led by investment firm Literacy Capital – bought the business out of administration.

A message to customers posted on TVK’s website this week said Wholefood Earth was committed to giving the business “a new life”.

Wholefood Earth founder and CEO Mac Awais told The Grocer the business focused on “constant sustainable and stable growth” and TVK presented an opportunity to expand operations.

“We intend to improve the company’s business model and implement processes to adapt it to the current economic situation,” he said.

“We aim to introduce more whole foods to the shop and reimagine TVK as a marketplace that will serve all the small vegan brands and producers in the UK. We also aim to work on a new pricing policy to make the products more affordable.”

Awais founded the Kent-based business in 2015 as an online seller of raw plant-based ingredients on marketplace platforms. It has since expanded operations to DTC channels, including an online store and an outlet, with a wide range of premium whole foods, organic products, herbs, spices, plant-based staples and condiments.

TVK collapsed into administration on 11 October following a downturn in trading as demand cooled in the aftermath of the pandemic and the onset of the cost-of-living crisis.

Its business and assets were sold in a pre-pack deal to Lillie SPV, which is controlled by TVK’s majority shareholder Literacy Capital. A report by administrator Interpath showed the business was bought for almost £260k in the pre-pack transaction.

However, the business announced in November that despite the “best endeavours” of the stakeholders, TVK would be winding down its online and subscription box service.

“Whilst we were hopeful that the recent restructuring would enable us to establish a viable business into the future, it has now become clear that this cannot be achieved,” it told its customers.

The Grocer understands a potential merger with Planet Organic to save the business fell through leading to the winding down process, with all 38 staff being made redundant.

Tony Buffin, the former Holland & Barrett boss brought in by Lit Cap as chairman, told The Grocer: “The administrators, former shareholders and directors tried to do as much as possible to save the business prior to, and following, the initial administration.

“Literacy Capital has been an incredibly well-intentioned shareholder and invested further significant sums following the administration in the hopes of enabling the business to continue in some way, but this wasn’t possible in light of the extremely difficult economic environment and squeeze on consumer spending.”

Established in 2013 by Scott and Karris McCulloch, who launched TVK from their two-bed flat in Glasgow, the business was the UK’s largest online supermarket dedicated solely to plant-based products, servicing thousands of customers through a next-day delivery model nationwide.

It offered more than 5,000 plant-based products, in addition to monthly vegan beauty and food subscription boxes.

Following record revenues of £7.5m as the pandemic supercharged demand for online operators, the business invested in its infrastructure, including moving to a 35,000 sq ft warehouse capable of servicing further significant growth. However, sales at the lossmaking business slumped to around £4m in the run up to the administration.