LONDON, United Kingdom – British vegan food start-up Livia’s has become the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, following a slump in sales and mounting supply chain issues.
In a carefully worded Instagram post on her personal account last Friday, Livia’s founder Olivia Wollenberg pointed to a drop in highstreet footfall and supply chain issues brought on by coronavirus restrictions for a slowdown in sales.
“The last few months have been the toughest I’ve ever experienced. Today I am announcing that Livia’s, the company I founded, and that has been my life for over seven years, is no longer in my hands,” Wollenberg wrote.
“Covid has not been kind to our company. Being a snack product and being dependent on highstreet and grocery stores meant sales were continuously hit with each lockdown. Our supply chain was repeatedly bashed too.
“Despite working 24/7 to address the new setbacks, it became apparent that the survival of my brand would be best secured in the hands of a larger organisation. So from today, Livia’s has new owners.”
On Sunday, The Times reported that Livia’s was forced to appoint administrators this year and on Friday was bought by the investment firm S-Ventures for £355,000, having previously been valued at more than £13 million.
That valuation came 18 months ago, after Livia’s raised £2 million from 1,400 investors on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Since then sales have slipped, with revenues for the year to January 31 at £1.3 million, down on the £1.6 million for the year ending September 30, 2020, for a pretax loss of £1.4 million.
Wollenberg, 33, who established Livia’s in 2014 after being diagnosed with food intolerances, insisted the plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free company’s future would be in safe hands.
“Although my story with Livia’s doesn’t have the ending I would have wished for, I hope my journey still encourages people to dream big and to never give up on what they believe in,” she wrote. “I’m confident that Livia’s will grow from strength to strength with its new owners.”
The sale to S-Ventures includes the transfer of Livia’s three remaining employees.
Commenting on the acquisition, S-Ventures Chief Executive Scott Livingston said: “The Livia’s team have done a fantastic job in establishing and building a respected and successful brand and set of healthy plant based snacking products across multiple channels.
“As part of the S-Ventures Group, Livia’s can expand and progress and become a mainstream player in this growing natural based products market.”
On the investment firm’s website, S-Ventures states it invests in “exciting brands in the natural and organic consumer space, helping them to realise their potential”, and lists feel-good nutrition range Pulsin, Belgian chocolate brand Ohso and plantain chip company Purely as part of its group.